When it comes to self-hosting your online courses, you have two of the most popular choices – Teachable and Thinkific.

As someone who has been using both of these platforms for over five years, as a course and instructional designer, I can tell you that they are both good platforms.

Comparing both of these platforms is like comparing apples and oranges.

Both have really advanced course features like the ability to host courses, communities, student-level course analytics, heat maps, certificates, and more.

But it’s the subtle details that really matter in this case!

In this post, I’ll compare Thinkific and Teachable.

Overview

Teachable, the most popular online course platform, was founded in 2014 by Ankur Nagpal.

He was dissatisfied with existing platforms, aimed to create a superior service. Instead of being a jack of all trades and master of none, Teachable focused on excelling as an online course platform.

On the other hand, Greg Smith founded Thinkific in 2012.

Initially, he wanted to take his LSAT course online, but due to a lack of a suitable platform, he built one to enable himself and others to sell their courses under their own brand.

So, how do these two platforms stack up against each other? Here’s a quick glance.

Quick decision

👍 What do I like about Teachable over Thinkific?

  • Better UI and UX: Teachable has better UI and UX compared to Thinkific which feels pretty rough and outdated.
  • Granular drip content: With Teachable, you can drip content chapter-wise vs. only module-wise. It helps a lot for say 30-day challenge like courses!
  • Coding lessons: You can provide live coding lessons by using the coding course template. Many of my programming friends find this tool highly usable in this aspect.
  • Bulk coupon generator: To sell products at discounted rates for increased conversion.

👍 What do I like about Thinkific over Teachable?

  • Affordable: No transaction fees and no limits on courses on all plans. The basic plan starts at $39/month. On the other hand, Teachable recently limited the number of courses you can publish in its lower-tier plans, causing backlash from users.
  • Academic-centric features: Supports many lesson formats like exams, quizzes, and assessments. But it doesn’t support SCORM.
  • Surveys: Provides the option to create surveys and gather rich information and insights from your students.
  • Mobile apps: Thinkific has both iOS and Android apps, although they are very limited. Teachable only has an iOS app, but it is fairly refined.

Similarities

  • Inbuilt payment processing: Both platforms offer proprietary payment processing to enable instant checkout and reduce back-office work.
  • Video tracking and student level analytics: Both platforms provide excellent video tracking and student-level analytics reports for better accountability. Certificates are not just based on students clicking “mark as complete”.

Upfront bottomline

When you compare Teachable and Thinkific, both are really good platforms with really advanced course creation features.

Teachable is more focused on marketing features, while Thinkific emphasizes academic use cases with features such as exams, advanced assessments, and survey features.

In my opinion, Thinkific is more creator-friendly. Even their basic plan, which costs $49 per month, offers unlimited courses. Teachable used to be similar, but since its acquisition by Hotmart in 2020, there have been significant changes.

The speed at which they implemented new features and styles, as well as the quality of their customer service, was affected.

They also eliminated their unlimited courses feature. Now, their $59 per month plan only allows you to publish up to 5 courses with a 5% transaction fee, forcing many people to switch from Teachable to other alternatives.

User interface

When it comes to the interface, both of these platforms have a sidebar-centric interface where you can access all features.

teachable course curriculum 1536x726 1

In my opinion, Teachable has a more refined UI/UX, whereas Thinkific’s design is quite outdated and not as intuitive to navigate.

Thinkific interface

When I first started using Thinkific, I found it somewhat difficult to intuitively understand its sidebar organization.

The category names are quite vague. For example, it says “manage learning products,” which takes a bit of time to process.

🏆 Winner: Teachable

Course creation

When it comes to each of these platforms, you have all the basic functionalities, such as the ability to create courses, modules, lessons, and also schedule drip campaigns, among other things.

teachable course creation
Teachable Course Creation

With Teachable, things are pretty straightforward.

And also inside any lesson, you can add various content formats.

Teachable lesson content
Teachable’s lesson editor

But with Thinkific, you get different lesson types.

thinkific course creation
Thinkific Course Creation

You have the ability to add various types of lessons that are not supported by Teachable, such as audio lessons, presentations, live sessions, assignments, surveys, and even exams.

After all, Thinkific was started with academic use cases in mind.

Along with this, the three main advantages of Teachable:

  • Cloud storage: Directly upload content from storage platforms like say Google Drive or Dropbox to Teachable.
  • Coaching and live classes: Provide personal coaching and live classes alongside training courses.
  • Upsells: You can include upsells within lesson content to increase revenue. This is my most favorite feature!

🏆 Winner: Teachable because it offers more flexibility in course creation and delivery. Also it has marketing-centric features, like the ability to include upsells in course content!

If you’re looking for a platform with specialist course features similar to Teachable and Thinkific and powerful community features like gamification and accountability, consider Kajabi.

Assessments

Both Thinkific and Teachable support graded and non-graded quizzes.

thinkific quiz
Thinkific Quiz

Thinkific offers more flexibility in quizzes, as it supports randomized question banks and direct imports of .xslx files.

Thinkific Quiz Options
Thinkific Quiz Options

When it comes to surveys, Thinkific offers it natively!

On the other hand, Teachable comes with the ability to include multiple choice questions.

Teachable quizzes

You can also enforce quiz completion, requiring people to pass the quiz with a specific percentage grade to proceed in the course.

This is my favorite feature!

However, it doesn’t come with the ability to ask open-ended questions and also surveys.

But since Teachable has the ability to include custom code in any of its lessons, you can embed forms from SurveySparrow or Typeform to enable these functionalities.

🏆 Winner: Thinkific. Supports different question types and also surveying.

Course compliance

With both platforms, you have comprehensive course compliance capabilities, and also you have advanced video watch tracking capabilities.

Both of them come with the ability to:

  • Enforce lecture order: So that students need to go through the lectures sequentially. If they try to access the lectures randomly it shows a content-locked 🔏message.
  • Enforce video watching: You can specify the video watch duration (say 70% or 100%) for students to achieve before they proceed to the next lessons.
  • Enforce quiz completion: You can set a passing grade for quizzes and also set the number of retakes. If students fail to reach the target within the attempts set, they need to wait until you reset the quiz (you will receive an email alert for the rest).
teachable course compliance
Teachable Course Compliance

I personally appreciate the ability to enforce video viewing, where I require my students to watch at least 70% of my videos before they can proceed to the next lessons.

Conventionally, most course creation platforms do not come with the ability to track video watching, thus they depend on students clicking the “mark as complete” button for every lesson to determine whether they have completed the course and issue the certificate.

However, with Teachable or Thinkific, you can intrinsically track whether people are going through the courses. This increases the value of the certificates that you issue, which is very important.

🏆 Winner: Tie.

Communities

Thinkific has had a communities feature for a really long time.

Thinkific create community
Thinkific community creation and access

You can either create a community that people will be automatically added to after checkout, or you can create course-specific communities.

Thinkific community
Thinkific community interface

When it comes to the actual community, you can organize your community based on different spaces, and you can also create different discussion areas and associate them with specific courses.

When you do this, these discussion areas will be available to students as they go through the course content, further encouraging them to become more proactively involved in the community!

👎 Thinkific community’s UI and UX deserves a lot of love. It’s similar to how Facebook used to be in 2010s.

Now over to Teachable:

Conventionally, Teachable lacked a community feature.

Teachable community access settings

However, they recently rolled out a community feature where you can create a community and potentially restrict access to only certain students enrolled in a specific training course.

Teachable community categories and tags

You can create various categories and tags for your community to categorize the content. Beyond this, there is nothing more. Their community feature is quite basic, without any advanced or gamification features.

🏆 Winner: Both of these platforms come with really limited community features, but Teachable’s community feels quite modern as it’s a new rollout.

Reporting and analytics

As I mentioned before, both Teachable and Thinkific come with advanced reporting capabilities to enable high-level student accountability.

Both of these platforms include video watch tracking features. With this, you can monitor the progress and course progress reports of each individual student. You have access to analytics reports, video retention graphs, and heat maps.

Checkout and payment processing

thinkific checkout
Thinkific checkout experience
Thinkific order bump functionality

Both Thinkific and Teachable come with a one-step checkout and also support adding custom checkout buttons

Teachable checkout
Teachable’s checkout experience
teachable order bump
Teachable’s order bump functionality

Also, you can upsell and bump orders on both platforms.

A differentiator is that Teachable provides guarantee badges (conversion boosters) to add to the checkout pages. This element is lacking in Thinkific.

teachable guarantee badge
Teachable Guarantee Badge

🏆 Winner: Both platforms are equal, though Teachable is marginally better because of the guarantee badges.

Design and customization

thinkific themes 1
Thinkific Themes

When it comes to website customization, Teachable comes with only a single theme to design your site, whereas Thinkific has three built-in themes – Vision, Empire, and Vogue, each with 3-to 4 styles.

teachable design templates
Teachable Design Templates

But when it comes to course page design layouts, Teachable comes with three of them:

  1. Teachable Classic
  2. Colossal
  3. Simple

Both Teachable and Thinkific include a page builder to design your course, sales, and site pages. They also allow you to set up a custom domain.

Also, in terms of white labeling, both platforms offer it in their higher plans. However, Teachable is not truly white-labeled as it still places its logo in various locations and includes the term “myteachable” in the login URL of your course website.

🏆 Winner: Thinkific offers 3 website themes, more conversion elements, and is a completely white-labeled solution. Conversely, Teachable has only one website theme (same ol’ experience), fewer design elements, and is not truly whitelabel.

Affiliate management

Having affiliates to drive new sales and increase your fan base is very crucial.

teachable affiliate
Teachable Affiliate

Both Thinkific and Teachable support affiliate features, and provide comprehensive control and visibility into the performance of your affiliates.

Thinkific affiliates and revenue partners
Thinkific affiliate

On top of affiliate features, Thinkific offers what’s known as revenue partners. Where if you’re co-creating a course with someone, you can split the revenue with them.

Thinkific revenue partners
Thinkific revenue partners.

Now, you might ask, “Can’t I just use the affiliate feature and set the commission to 50%?”

Yes, but the difference lies in the fact that these partners get paid regardless of whether or not a cookie is set or any specific course link is used.

Plus, from a compliance and accounting perspective, revenue partnership and affiliate commissions are handled differently.

🏆 Winner: Tie

Mobile apps

Thinkific comes with mobile apps for both iOS and Android but it’s reported as buggy, slow, and quite unintuitive.

On the other hand, Teachable comes with a pretty good app but it’s only for iOS.

One really good feature of Teachable’s iOS app is the ability to pick up where you left off on another device!

Using the Teachable app, students can:

  • Pick up where they left off on another device.
  • Stream course videos.
  • View lecture text and attachments.
  • Take lecture quizzes and view their scores.
  • Complete lectures and sync their progress with other devices.

🏆 Winner: Teachable, obviously.

Email marketing

Both Teachable and Thinkific have built-in notifications that help you send admin and student notifications.

You can customize these transactional emails.

With both of these, you can send automated notifications for every new signup, new order, new lead, subscription cancellation, and so on.

teachable email notifications
Teachable Email Notifications

With Teachable, you can send automated notifications to owners and authors in the following events:

  • Student details change
  • New student signup
  • New comment awaiting moderation
  • New enrollment
thinkific email notifications
Thinkific Email Notifications

With Thinkific, admins can get notifications when there’s a:

  • New sign up
  • New order
  • New lead
  • Subscription cancelation.

When it comes with email marekting integrations, Teachable natively integrates with only MailChimp and ConvertKit.

So, with these limited integrations, you will be forced to rely on Zapier.

Whereas, Thinkific integrates with:

  • MailChimp
  • ConvertKit
  • Constant Contact
  • AWeber
  • ActiveCampaign
  • EngageBay

This is pretty good!

🏆 Winner: Thinkific. It comes with the ability to send custom email updates and has better integrations with other email apps compared to Teachable.

Pricing

Thinkific offers flexible pricing plans to suit your needs.

Thinkific pricing
Thinkific pricing

You can have unlimited courses under each plan. And all of them also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. More importantly, there are no transaction fees.

Teachable’s plan is a lot more complex to understand.

Teachable plans and pricing
Teachable pricing

Teachable’s free plan allows one course creation with a 10% transaction fee. Even their basic plan has 5 course limitation and a 5% transaction fee.

Teachable initially offered unlimited courses even in beginner plans, but later restricted this to the highest plan, leading some users to consider leaving the platform and risking data loss.

When you compare the two, Thinkific provides more value for your money as it supports unlimited courses even in their most basic plan.

Final verdict

Teachable and Thinkific are leading course creation platforms, each with their strengths. Thinkific is geared towards academic use cases with support for advanced exams, quizzes, and assessments.

In contrast, Teachable is more marketing-friendly, offering the ability to include upsells in course content and a feature-rich checkout page builder.

However, both platforms could improve their mobile app functionality. Despite Teachable’s refined iOS app, it lacks an Android version, while Thinkific’s apps for both iOS and Android need enhancements.

In deciding between these, I’d recommend Thinkific due to its unlimited courses offering without any transaction fee on even their basic $49 per month plan.

On the other hand, Teachable previously offered unlimited courses, but this feature was removed following significant changes after its acquisition by Hotmart.

However, considering the increasing value of communities, one might skip both these platforms in favor of community-centric course platforms like Kajabi communities or Circle (which was founded by Teachable’s original creators)