An in-depth look at lynda.com reveals their solid reputation is largely deserved, with expert instructors, high production quality videos and exercises, and a high standard maintained across their broad and deep course catalog. lynda.com is among the best in the business at helping you get skills and get ahead.

Stat Sheet

Subjects Covered 3D, Audio, Business, Design, Photography, Web Development, Web Software, and Video
Total Courses 1,789 (at time of writing)
Student Level Basic through advanced, but emphasis on beginner/intermediate
Format Instructional videos organized into chapters. Full courses range from under an hour to over 20 hours. Exercise files are available to better retain skills learned. 
Certification Many courses offer certification; given its long history and reputation, lynda.com’s certification is more meaningful than most at proving your skills.
Cost
  • Regular Account: $25 per month ($250 per year)
  • Premium Account: $37.50 per month ($375 per year); includes exercises.
  • Free 7-day trial. A few free “teaser” courses.

Full Review

As part of our review, we took several courses, including introductory courses on Lion OS X (Mac’s newest operating system) and FrameMaker 10 (a software application included in Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite), and intermediate ones on Photoshop and Microsoft Excel. Across the board, the learning experience was smooth, with the courses subdivided into more manageable sections that allow users to learn at their own pace. One good thing with lynda.com is that instructors walk you through lesson highlights step by step. In the FrameMaker 10 tutorial, the videos show the software application actually being used by the instructor, creating a feeling that you are using FrameMaker yourself. The course makes the makes the student familiar with even the more advanced features of the software. Lynda.com is an E-Learning Leader for Good Reasons Yet despite wide and deep content, almost all of the courses are focused on technology or business, and there is little in the way of soft skills like communication, sales, critical thinking or other areas. lynda.com’s instructors are qualified subject matter experts, and production of the site’s instructional videos are directly managed by lynda.com, with final products undergoing strict quality control. This takes lynda.com a few rungs higher than other libraries that do not enforce strict quality standards on their instructors. Lynda.com is an E-Learning Leader for Good ReasonsFor individuals who have opened premium accounts ($37.50 per month), there’s a very useful perk that comes with the added cost: exercises. Although the exercise files vary considerably from course to course, they can be quite extensive. For example, the FrameMaker course includes several helpful sample documents for each of the 12 chapters.  The Mac Basics course, on other hand, includes only a few files, including a .jpeg of a crab.

Conclusion: Strong rep well-deserved

Based on our experience, lynda.com lives up to its reputation as an acclaimed provider of software training. The quality and range of its courses are at or above the industry average. The site’s consumer-centric design and usability have also evolved favorably over the years. In our view, shelling out $25 (or $37.50 with exercises) for a month of continued use is well worth it, even for cash-challenged users who just intend to learn two or more courses from basic level to intermediate.

You can also pre-pay for an entire year and receive a 17% discount – great for professionals who intend to keep their skills sharp and up-to-date. In terms of career value, the benefits of signing up far outweigh the costs. We wholeheartedly recommend the premium account for learners to really hone skills through the rigorous exercise files. The certificates, while not on par with a Masters degree, are likely to be more impressive on your resume than merely listing your skills with no context. lynda.com is among the best learning libraries to get skilled up.

5/5

Cost of Program

On almost any metric or scale you can think of, lynda’s affordable monthly subscription ($25 or $37.50/mo) is an outstanding value for the amount, variety and quality of content offered. It is a testament to where we have come in online learning that you can access so much for so little.

4.5/5

Ease of Use

lynda offers a top-notch and high quality usability experience, with closed captions, speed controls and an easy mobile experience on iPhone or iPad. We’ve seen a few sites that offer a slightly cleaner or easier solution, but lynda is up there among the best in the business at creating an easy to navigate and manage experience.

5/5

Quality of Content

lynda.com directly oversees the production and quality control of its instructional videos, most of which are done by very qualified subject matter experts. Experts like MacWorld editor Christopher Breen instruct courses, and the topics are chosen well and organized to create longer-term learning. Among the best online course content available anywhere.

3/5

Quality of Support

Although you can contact lynda.com, the courses offer no homework assignments or comment boards. The exercise files accessible with a premium membership only allow the user to mimic what the instructor does, not perform original work. While we’d like to see lynda.com lead the industry in these areas, they are squarely average in this area for self-service classes. Just about the only negative thing we can say.

5/5

Employment Value

A testament to lynda’s value is that hundreds of universities and companies, including many Fortune 100 firms, maintain large bulk subscriptions. Certifications granted by the site to users who complete specific course programs might be recognized by some companies as valid HR assessment tools. More than that, there are any number of marketable and valuable skills can be developed with even a month using lynda.com.

4.3

Overall