I mentioned last year that I started a subscription to Lynda.com. For those unfamiliar with the service, it is a site with tons of training videos. I started the service when I was considering taking a photography course locally, but realized I could get several months of training videos for less money.
While there is something to be said for hands on training with a professional teacher, I work full time and I was looking for something online. Since I knew about Lynda.com, I gravitated toward their service. As I mentioned before, they have two monthly subscription programs and a few different yearly programs that offer a discount or add features (like downloading to an iPad for offline viewing). I went with their more expensive 37.50 a month program that offers access to the files they are using in their courses. I scaled back to their $25 a month program since it saved $12.50 a month and I wasn't really following along with their project files while I was watching videos.
I have been using Lynda for nearly a year now and I am happy with the service, but I was curious about the other programs available. I was watching a video podcast called "The Grid" on my AppleTV and saw a commercial for KelbyOne. This is a site associated with Scott Kelby. Most people that have read a Photoshop or Lightoom book have probably heard of Kelby. The interesting part was KelbyOne's monthly membership is also $25 a month.
Since I was curious, I decided to join KelbyOne for a month to see how it compares to Lynda.com.
The thing I like about KelbyOne is that it has more classes from well known professional photographers. Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, Trey Ratcliff and many more well know photographers have courses on the site. While Lynda.com has great teachers and some photographer interviews, they don't really have a wildlife photography class from someone as successful in that area as Moose Peterson.
To me, this is the main difference between the two services. Lynda will teach you how to get great photos in numerous areas by focusing on the fundamentals of photography, which I found very interesting. But KelbyOne will take you out in the field with Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, etc. Also, they have courses from Scott Kelby on the process of going from taking a flash photo on location to how to manipulate those photos in Photoshop.
While I am not saying which approach is better, I found them both to contain a lot of information for the amateur photographer. I also found it interesting that KelbyOne touts 10,000 videos to Lynda.com's 2500. The reason I found it interesting is that Lynda has a much wider range of courses. You can learn Excel, Quickbooks, iPad Music Production, and much more. KelbyOne seems to be much more focused on Photography and rarely moves completely away from that subject. Also, while KelbyOne apparently had more videos, it actually feels smaller to me. For example, they have a Canon 5D MarkIII course, but it is 4 hours shorter than the in depth video from Lynda on the same subject. I have found that many of the Lynda videos are longer and more in depth that the KelbyOne videos on the same subject. Also, it doesn't make sense to get too hung up on the number of videos when some of those videos may not apply to anything you do. For example, a Lightroom 3 video may be of no consequence if they offer a Lightroom 5 video and that is what you are using.
While length of videos, photographers, and subject matter may be different, this is not where the differences end. The way you interact with the two services is also different.
If you use a PC for both services, you will find some differences in how they work. Lynda.com just seems more polished for a few reasons. The main difference, and it is a big one, is that Lynda keeps track of where you left off on a course. Both services break their courses into numerous videos, but Lynda puts an eyeball icon next to those you have started watching. KelbyOne requires that you figure out where you left off on your own. While KelbyOne does have a "dashboard" section that shows your recent history, it does't seem to know where you left off. Most of my history takes me right back to the intro video rather than the last video I watched in the sequence.
On an iPad, which is mainly how I watch the videos, Lynda is far superior. For example, I can create individual playlists and put courses in them for watching later. I can review my course history, see what percentage of a course I have started is finished, and see the last video in the course that I have started watching. Also, I have the ability to search for new subjects just by typing in a word, by subject, by software, etc... Once you decide on a subject, for example Black and White, you see a list of courses like "Colorizing B &W", "B&W in Lightroom", etc... You can usually see a very long list before you need to scroll down, which makes it easy to find a subject. Also, if you are interested in one Author, you can click on their name and see a full list of every course they have taught. Next to each name is also the number of courses.
KelbyOne also has an iPad app. However, it is much less useful. You get subjects like "Photography", "New Courses", etc.. like you have with Lynda. However, for some reason the subjects aren't even in alphabetical order like they are in Lynda. Also, when you click on "Photography", you don't get a list. You get a photo with the name of the course underneath. I believe the courses are arranged by the date they were made with newest first, but I am not sure. However, you have to navigate to that page every time you relaunch the app and find the course again, to pick up where you left off. You also need to remember the name of the last video you watched in the course.
My issue with the photo on of each course is that you can't even fully fit 6 different courses on a page, so if you were watching a video that wasn't brand new(assuming this is how they are sorted), you could be scrolling and trying to find the video for a long time. Lynda has course names in alphabetical order, so I can find courses very easily. Also, KelbyOne does not have course history or a search function in the app. They do let you look for an "Author", but they don't tell you how many courses that author has available and rather than a long alphabetical list, you get about six courses per page in random (or possibly newest to oldest order). If I want to watch a course in Lightroom by Scott Kelby, I have to scroll through every page, try to remember the subject that best fits my needs when I see a course with Lightroom in the name and the scroll back to that course after I review all of them to see which fits my needs best. It is much easier to see an alphabetical list and then choosing which class in that list fits your needs best. You can go to a specific "Photoshop Lightroom" tab, but then you have to sort through videos by all authors.
My opinion is that KelbyOne really needs to work on a much better way to organize their catalog and needs to really update their iPad app. That is not to say that KelbyOne doesn't have some advantages. For example, with a membership you get a copy of "Photoshop User" magazine, discounts for some photography services (that may pay for a month on its own), and a community board where you can ask questions. In fact, there are probably other features I am unaware of because you get shuffled in out of areas as you click on services. For instance, when I clicked on "Community" on their webpage, I got taken to "members.photoshopusers.com" and had to sign in again.
I also want to mention that I mainly use these services using an iPad or iPhone and Airplay the video to my AppleTV 2. Even then, the video for Lynda.com is often sharper and looks better. This isn't an across the board assessment, but overall, in my opinion, many videos just look better on Lynda.com.
Finally, this article may come off sounding like a ringing endorsement for Lynda.com. If I had to live with one of the services forever, it would definitely be Lynda.com. I would also recommend it before KelbyOne for most people. That being said, these services can both be subscribed to on a month-to-month basis. As a result, I am canceling Lynda for a while since I want to watch more KelbyOne videos. That may seem strange, but I have been using Lynda for nearly a year and I have exhausted most of the basic photography courses and it is always interesting to see similar areas discussed by another author. The reason is that there are so many ways to use Lightroom, for example, that the subject is covered differently and may bring more insight into the way I am working with these things. I will definitely go back to Lynda in a few months, but I only have time and money to watch videos from one service at a time.
For me, the content outweighs the interface of these services. Although, KelbyOne could learn a lot of from Lynda.com and the great organizational skills put into their interface.
2/15 - I wrote this article about a year ago and I plan on writing an updated article soon. I have attached a free video below related to one of my favorite ongoing classes called "The Practicing Photographer". I should note that I could get a small payment from Lynda for advertising their site, but I will also look into Kelbyone for a similar program before I write the new article.