Heights PlatformStarts at $79 for lifetime
Online education is on a continuous rise and only expected to grow exponentially over the next decade. Even many traditional universities are embracing the shift in how knowledge is transferred and shared.
If you have expertise in a specific field, there has never been a better time to build a business by building an online course and charging a reasonable fee for the value it provides.
There are marketplaces like Udemy to list your courses, but it is always better to host the information under your own brand, under the domain of your business name.
However, maintaining a WordPress website has its fair share of challenges in plugins, hosting, etc. and many would prefer a far simpler solution.
This is where hosted solutions come in where the whole tech stack is maintained by the software provider and you can concentrate completely on the content for your courses and promotion of the business.
Among the hosted solutions, Teachable is the market leader with a large base of users.
My personal favorite is Podia, as it a complete all in one solution with built-in email marketing, membership sites and a lot more.
Heights Platform aims to offer a better solution than these and other hosted solutions to make an online course and build a business by selling the course easily.
Is it as good as or even better than the other similar tools? Let's find out.
UI & Features
The initial sign up process was straight forward and easy. You can select a .heightsplatform subdomain if you are not going to use a custom domain.
Once it is done, the main dashboard takes the user through a good tour of all the elements in the dashboard and what each element should be used for.
The main dashboard has an excellent overview and a bird's eyes view of all the important information at a glance.
The next step is to start building your course content with a title and brief description of the course and then adding lessons. There is a native integration with Unsplash to get an image that matches your course content.
The editor element at the top of the dashboard opens up the canvas to add text, image or video content to each lesson.
Once the content set up including text, audio, video, download files, and assignments is completed, the additional settings should be selected before publishing it.
These settings include if the lesson should be drip-fed after a certain number of days and if it requires unlocking by completing the previous lesson first. Also, the number of points can a student gets after completion of this lesson can also be set up.
Based on the number of points earned, there is a set of pre-defined badges that students can earn. It is also possible to upload custom badges matching your own brand and logo.
One of the unique features in Heights Platform is to define a project which is the final objective of a course. For example, the project for a course in blogging could be to get the first 1000 page views.
All the students can post in the project and share their accomplishments and fellow students can upvote the posts. It really helps in building a community for your brand and significantly increases the engagement within the students.
Finally, my most favorite feature is once everything is set up, the outline feature gives a visual overview of everything that has been built for the course and what is the flow students go through right from the moment they enroll to the final project post.
Unlike other LMS platforms, additional to a custom domain, Heights platform also allows white labeling the platform with your own brand logo, colors, and favicon.
Landing pages and support pages can be built within the platform itself. Although having some templates for landing pages would have been better, it is good to have it built-in.
Overall, the user experience is very easy to use with an intuitive dashboard with some really unique features additional to covering the basics of building an online course.
There is a decent range of native integrations.
Advertising & Analytics
- Facebook ads & pixels
- Google analytics
- Google drive
Social media & mentor profiles
Additional to all the native integrations, zapier integration is also available which opens up the possibility to integrate with more than 1,000 applications seamlessly easy.
However, one major absence among the native integration is any email marketing tool. For a SaaS tool that doesn't come with built-in email marketing, it would have been much better to natively integrate with email marketing tools rather than to depend on Zapier. I hope the team will look int it and add it in the roadmap.
There are three plans starting from $39 a month for the basic plan to $399 a month for the academy plan which is like your own LMS platform for your brand.
The difference in the plans is mainly the number of active students, additional admins, and authors. Also, the white labeling and custom domain are available only in the pro plan and higher.
Another feature that is not available in the basic plan is customizable landing pages.
Heights platform's pricing is slightly cheaper than Teachable. The main pros are white labeling options, projects after completion of the course with discussion and visual outline builder.
Also, unlike Teachable there is no transaction fee in the basic plan, whereas Teachable basic plan charges a fee of 5%. This makes a huge difference for starters who would want to earn the maximum out of their courses.
One major con, when compared to Teachable, would be the absence of integrated email marketing features.
Podia has a real advantage of being an all in one solution with integrated email marketing and membership sites.
The huge advantage over Podia is the enhanced branding ability and student discussion forums.
Support is via email and live chat is not available on the website and also within the app. The response times were fairly good and the support team looks to be very knowledgable and helpful.
The documentation is quite extensive and really impressive covering almost all the features in detail.
Is the AppSumo deal any good?
Yes, if you are new to building courses, it is a good deal. However, if you want to scale up, I would still recommend Podia due to the below reasons,
- Although you will not be paying monthly for Heights Platform, an additional email marketing tool is definitely needed for anyone selling digital products, to be in touch with your customers and promote your products. This would cost anywhere between $15 to $30 a month for just 500 to 1,000 subscribers depending on the tool you choose. With Podia, you get unlimited email marketing with unlimited emails and contacts with all the plans which is a huge saving as you scale up.
- Even with paying for an email marketing tool, as Heights Platform does not have native integration with email marketing tools, you will need Zapier for integrating and paying $19 for Zapier to have quick sync less than 15 minutes time.
- Podia offers unlimited video hosting, however video hosting is not included in the AppSumo deal of Heights Platform and you have to pay an additional $10 a month for it.
- Along with courses and digital downloads, you can build membership sites with Podia which is really important to build a community and recurring income.
- Podia also has built-in messaging so that you can communicate with your students and community at any time via live chat.
- Finally, and most importantly Podia is truly an all in one solution that lets you focus solely on building your content and offering support. The more time you spend on it and let the tech stack take care of all other problems, the more chances of succeeding.
Is it a good tool to consider for building online courses?
Surprisingly, yes. More than good enough with some really unique features up its sleeve.
Podia still remains my favorite due to its all in one ability including email marketing and membership sites, but the level of branding that can be achieved in Heights Platform with white labeling makes it stand apart from any other similar tool.
That along with the visual outline builder and discussion forum for students makes it a fantastic option for your first online course.