Heights Platform 2021 Wrapped: Our Biggest Online Course Software Updates of the Year7 minute read
2021 was a year of growth for Heights Platform and our online course creators. If you are one of our creators, you know how many new updates we released during this year alone!
Before we get into our more technical achievements, we want to celebrate our creators too.
This year we had the pleasure to interact with our creators like never before and learn about their experience building online knowledge businesses with Heights Platform.
Check out our creator stories, where we share the success stories of some of our customers.
In 2021, we released 9 major updates and a total of 270 smaller updates to Heights Platform in our quest to build the best online course creation software for our creators and their learners. (That is more than one update for every weekday of the year!) We are glad to say that our work didn't go unnoticed, and our creators' reaction to our most popular updates has been fantastic!
Without further ado, let's see Heights Platform's major updates and releases for 2021.
Online Challenges are our biggest update of the year and what we consider a game-changing feature.
A Challenge is a special type of online course. What differentiates challenges from online courses is the way students get access to the lessons: a challenge has a fixed calendar start and end date.
You can schedule the dates when your challenge will become available to students, together with setting a release date for every single lesson in the challenge.
Unlike a standard online course, each lesson inside a challenge has the option to disappear or expire for students after a set period of time that you can customize.
Everyone who purchases your challenge will gain access to the course and new lesson content at the same time, which means that all your students go through the course together, making learning much more powerful.
Once a Challenge is completed, creators using Heights Platform have the option to restart it and rerun the challenge again simply with the click of one button. You can decide the launch date for the new challenge, and the system automatically calculates the launch and expiration dates of every single lesson, based on the settings you had in the previous challenge!
With challenges, you also have the option of scheduling automated emails to your students to notify them once a new lesson becomes available. Let's see what's new with emails in Heights Platform:
#2. Announcements, Email Campaigns and Contacts
Before this year, Heights Platform already customizable email templates for sending students automated transactional emails related to enrollment or payment.
In 2021 we added many more email features, and today you can:
- Send bulk, customizable announcement emails to all of your students
- Create and schedule marketing email campaigns to different groups of contacts
- Schedule automated challenge lesson email sequences
To go along with this feature, we have added contacts to all Heights Platform users. Our most popular plan - the pro plan - allows our creators to send unlimited emails to a total of 10,000 contacts!
#3. Student Affiliate Program
Another great feature that Heights Platform released in 2021 is the student affiliate program. This feature allows creators to create their very own affiliate program within Heights, where their students or external affiliates can start promoting their online courses and earn a commission.
Creators can set commission rates, review/reject referrals, and store payout records.
With Heights, online course students can quickly become advocates of your brand.
Through our built-in program, creators can have access to real-time data about their affiliates' referrals, lists of affiliates, commissions left to pay, and much more!
#4. Blog Feature
A blog is an important tool for promoting your online business as an online course creator.
The thought of having to find a hosting platform or develop your blog yourself can be demotivating.
Fortunately for you, at Heights, we have created a comprehensive built-in blog feature available for all our creators.
The blog feature allows our creators to build and customize a public blog to promote their program and build an audience.
You can easily publish blog articles from the same platform where you build your online course: there is no added cost, all you have to do is write the articles!
Heights Platform users can write and schedule posts from the built-in editor that offers complete HTML editing, and features specifically designed for blogging like live word count, a built-in RSS feed, and blog categories.
#5. Online Course Launch Option
In 2021 we also have improved how the "launch date" and lesson drip release day features work: creators can now set multiple rolling launches for their online course throughout the year, without worrying about their current students losing access to the program.
Heights Platform can sell online courses, digital products, or bundles by choosing between these student enrollment strategies:
- Open (Evergreen) Enrollment: leave access open to your online course so students can purchase it at any time and immediately get access to your content.
- Single Set Launch Date: Select a date in the future for launching your online course. Students will be able to pre-purchase your program but will not gain access before this date.
- Schedule Multiple Launches: Set up multiple launch dates during the year to relaunch your online course to new groups of students. Students will be able to purchase your course at any time, but will only be granted access on the next launch date. When you schedule a second launch, your existing students will continue to have access at the launch period they purchased, while new students will be pre-purchasing your course for its next launch. No need to copy courses, or fiddle with complicated permission settings. Heights handles each student's access period automatically based on the period the student purchased!
- Limit Days of Access: You can limit the timeframe in which a student has access to your course or product after purchase (i.e. access for one year). This can be used either on its own or in combination with the Launch Date feature.
With multiple launches, you can market and promote your course before the release, while still allowing access to students who purchased your program on previous launches. This way you can benefit from the hype around holding a launch, while also having your content continuously available for sale.
At the same time, you'll be able to manage new students easier knowing that your next batch of students will all be starting your course together on the same date.
If done right, this business model can be a very profitable solution for creators. Multiple launches help you create urgency among your audience while still growing and retaining your student base.
#6. Coupon Code Enhancements
Heights Platform creators had the option to use coupon codes to offer discounted rates for their students since our platform launched. In 2021, we made multiple improvements to how this feature works inside the platform, to ensure the best possible outcome for our creators.
We added the ability to create and share coupon code links, so discounts would automatically apply for students using the coupon code URL!
We also added more coupon code restrictions, so creators can restrict certain coupon codes to only apply to specific products (or product types) inside their program. Creators can now also upload coupon codes in bulk.
#7. New Style, Colors and Fonts Options
2021 also brought new looks for Heights Platform. Creators can now customize the style of their site even further, by changing the color of the main sidebar and the fonts in their courses.
Developers and advanced creators can completely customize the design and layout of their blog using HTML and Liquid markup.
You can create any blog design you can imagine, and embed any third-party tools you need. To start there are page templates available for the blog feature, but more page templates for other areas of your site will be available in the future (in addition to the custom code and custom CSS features available now).
These updates are only the beginning of what will be a major project for 2022, when creators using Heights Platform will be able to design completely custom landing pages with the upcoming redesign of our landing page builder feature.
#8. Video Timestamps and Updated Video Player
Writing a video timestamp into your lesson content will automatically turn it into a clickable link for your students to jump to that time in your video. If you have already written in timestamps in your lessons, these will automatically appear as links! You'll notice these timestamps start working for you immediately without any manual updating or adjustment of your lessons!
Our updated player design includes new keyboard shortcuts, no more grey overlay on paused videos, and better support for Windows devices with touch input. The spacebar can be used to play and pause your player, the left and right arrow keys allow you to jump forward or backward in 10-second increments, up and down arrow keys control volume, and the S key toggles playback speed.
#9. More Author Permissions
Many of our creators have been asking us for more granular permission options for author users and to be able to increase their number of authors without upgrading to our most expensive plan.
We added more customizable permissions that creators can grant and revoke for the "author" users.
Creators can now authorize authors to edit specific courses, delete them, create new products and access specific information within the platform.
On the Pro plan and above, it is now possible to expand your author limit and purchase additional author seats as needed for $11/month.Create Your Online Course Today
More Notable Updates from 2021:
- Czech Localizations (Portuguese, German, Greek, Spanish, and Japanese improved)
- New Interface Icons
- Lesson Comments on Challenge Lessons
- Upsell Flexibility - Make any product an upsell on any other product
- Days of Access - Expire access to content automatically a set number of days after purchase
- Content Access Tab Redesign - A better overview of what your students can access and when
- Launch Date Update - Seamlessly handle back to back launches
- Page Templates - Edit the entire HTML layout of your blog pages
- Editor Improvements - An easier-to-use and more consistent content editing experience
- Speed and Security Enhancements - Faster and more secure, plus enterprise-level protection from Cloudflare
- Student Subscription Management - Allow students to manage individual subscriptions when they have more than one
- Hidden Bundles
- Updated Heights Platform Reviews Page - Video testimonials from our creators
- SCA Updates for payment collection
- Custom CSS Flexibility - Dynamic CSS classes so developers can style individual courses independently.
- Student CSV Export - Export a list of students in total or from an individual course
What's in Store for 2022?
2021 was definitely a busy year for Heights Platform, with lots of new product updates and improvements.
Aside from the major releases mentioned above, we have also been working hard on our content creation. We started creating informative YouTube videos to help fellow online course creators with their online business, and we released a number of video tutorials in our knowledge base.
The Heights Platform website also got a makeover and we have been releasing more blog posts about online course creation and digital marketing. In our blog, check out this online course pricing calculator we developed to help creators to find the right price for their online course or membership site.
But we are not slowing down, check out what's coming soon:
- Course Completion Certificates - Customizable for your students
- A completely redesigned landing page builder (We want you to be able to design any web page you can imagine using Heights)
- More options to send email marketing campaigns
- Improvements for organizing large amounts of content
- Email marketing software integrations
And much more we can't announce just yet!
Follow some of these updates and vote on what you'd like to see next on the Heights Platform public roadmapCreate Your Online Course Today