What are the short-term and long-term costs of an eLearning authoring tool?

What are the short-term and long-term costs of an eLearning authoring tool?

We believe that eLearning tool pricing should be as easy to understand as the tool itself. That said, there are many things to consider outside of the purchase price. In this article, we dive into how to budget for the best eLearning outcomes.

Why Is It Worth Investing in an eLearning Authoring Tool?

Whether you’re trying to branch out into creating more interactive courses or take more creative control over eLearning courses you would previously have outsourced, there are many great reasons for buying an eLearning authoring tool.

Most importantly, an authoring tool can save your organization a lot of money. There is, of course, nothing wrong with relying on external expertise or running full-day, face-to-face training days as part of your curriculum—for some projects these methods will be your best option. However, eLearning is among the most cost-effective of training tools. Bringing some or all of its creation in-house will be a lot more affordable than relying on an agency for every program you want to create.

Compare the different capabilities of the most popular eLearning authoring tools in our article:

‘Elearning Authoring Tools: Comparison of 7 Major Authoring Tools’

Researching eLearning Authoring Tool Pricing

Obviously, it’s easy to find information about eLearning authoring tool pricing on the websites of all the major providers. However, before you start researching prices, you should definitely spend some time understanding your requirements.

In our ebook, ‘From Tool Selection to Measurement: 6 Steps to eLearning Authoring Success’, we set out a series of questions that should help you define what kind of tool you need. These questions can help you decide whether you need features such as:

  • Multilingual capabilities to serve a global audience
  • Multi-device flexibility, allowing for courses to be viewed on mobile devices
  • Collaborative tools to allow simultaneous editing and commenting on course designs
  • Flexibility to change and edit templates and use your own branded visuals
  • A wide range of presentation and assessment options enabled by a large library of assets
  • Analytics tools to keep track of how your content is doing

Answering these questions will help you create a shortlist of tools. However, you’ll still need a good grasp of your exact requirements while you hunt down pricing.

Cloud-based authoring tools (like Gomo) are usually priced per author license. Fixed pricing is often given for individuals and smaller teams, but you will usually be directed to a sales team if you think you have (or in the longer-term will have) a larger requirement. This is necessary because each organization’s requirements vary so widely and customers deserve packages properly tailored to those needs.

When in doubt, we believe it’s actually better to start smaller—it can take time to learn the tool and transfer that knowledge to a larger team. Focusing on a strong, core team makes a lot of sense. After all, your provider will usually be happy to discuss a commitment to new licenses at any time. In this way, cloud-based tools are fantastic in terms of scalability: you can grow your pool of licenses as new areas of the business start to use the tool.

Desktop authoring tools usually have a one-time purchase option that will get you a single copy of the latest version of the tool. Future major revisions are unlikely to be included, however—and by going with desktop, you’ll be missing out on all the cost benefits of a cloud-based tool.

Time: The Additional Cost You Always Need to Factor In

As with many things in life, the purchase price doesn’t tell the full story. This isn’t a case of tool providers being sneaky. It’s simply a reminder that your time, and your colleagues’ time, also has an associated cost.

Time is money, as they say. It will take time to deploy the new tool, and for everyone on your team to learn how to use the tool effectively. You will have to carve out time for employees to attend a training session (or work with self-service material) and practice what they’ve learned. Adapting to any new habit takes around two to three weeks to become second nature, so remember to build time for this into your budget after training, and monitor employee progress.

This process can be accelerated with good quality training materials. Factor what material will be on offer into your choice of tool, and allocate additional budget if that material will needs to be adapted. Your international colleagues may need the material translated or localized, for example. It’s worth starting a conversation with your tool provider about this, as there may be scope for collaboration (the Gomo team have previously worked with clients to translate Gomo Academy onboarding content.)

Stay focused on an efficient onboarding with our resource:

‘How an Authoring Tool Can Improve Your Onboarding ROI’

When to Pay for Optional Extras

The following features often do not come as standard in the most basic tiers of your tool:

  • Hosting/delivery (including different bandwidth and per-learner license packages)
  • Enhanced Support (including priority phone support, access to a customer success manager, and optional extra training)
  • Additional course storage space
  • Custom theme development

There’s a great case to be made for investing in all of these features, though you should of course consider your immediate and long-term requirements:


What you should expect as standard: cloud-based access for your designers to the online tool and the courses you are creating.

What you may need to additionally purchase: you may also want to use the same system to deliver courses to your learners. This isn’t just useful for organizations without an LMS—it also opens up additional distribution options for your LMS or other venues that will help you solve certain logistical challenges. This could be, for example, ensuring quick access to course content anywhere in the world, or bypassing a technically problematic LMS.

Enhanced Support

What you should expect as standard: Your provider should offer self-service support options within the purchase price of the tool.

What you may need to additionally purchase: Higher-tier packages may include access to priority response and a customer success manager who will advocate for your feature requests and ensure you’re getting the most out of the software.

End-user training sessions are particularly worth considering. The provider should know how to best teach the tool and doing this yourself will delay your wider rollout while you learn enough to teach the tool.

Additional Course Storage Space

What you should expect as standard: Cloud-based tools should provide a few gigabytes of space on which to store courses and media for editing.

What you may need to additionally purchase: There’s not much to this one—the larger your business, the more licenses you have, and the longer you work in the tool, the more course storage space you’re going to need.

Custom Theme Development

What you should expect as standard: Your authoring tool should give you at least some control over the look and feel of the visual theme of your courses, allowing you to change everything into your brand colors and incorporate your company logo.

A GIF showing the parallax scrolling asset from the 'Godiva Global Chocolate Mastery Program', which was created using the Gomo eLearning authoring tool

What you may need to additionally purchase: If your brand requirements are particularly strict (for example, it governs the precise padding of elements) you will need to discuss this with your authoring tool provider. You will have to do the same if you want to create something unique that features custom fonts, menus, icons, and navigation graphics. Some tools won’t be flexible on this part of design—others (like Gomo) offer custom theme design as an optional extra. You can see an example of this more intensive custom design work in the image above—read our Godiva case study for more information.

Find out how to get the most from a Gomo style template in:

‘6 Ways of Using Your Brand to Build an Eye-Catching eLearning Style Template’

About the author: Simon Waldram

As Product Manager at Gomo, I’m passionate about delivering value at every interaction and to increase sustainable proven value for our customers and business.

I have extensive experience of working within both the commercial and educational sectors, and approach all projects with a strategic mind.

This combination of education and commercial experience has enabled me to stay at the leading edge of emerging technologies to ensure that customers are provided with a framework for success.

Learn how to efficiently scale your eLearning with these simple design choices. Download our guide:

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