Channel (noun.)

Definition: Anything that carries or transfers information.

Also referenced as: Channels (noun)

Related to: Choreograph, Communication, Complex, Content, Context, Data, Information, Message, User



The word channel was used 18 times across 7 pages


Chapter 3: Face Reality | Page 39

A channel transmits information. A commercial on TV and YouTube is accessible on two channels. A similar message could show up in your email inbox, on a billboard, on the radio, or in the mail.

We live our lives across channels.

It's common to see someone using a smartphone while sitting in front of a computer screen, or reading a magazine while watching TV.

As users, our context is the situation we're in, including where we are, what we're trying to do, how we're feeling, and anything else that shapes our experience. Our context is always unique to us and can't be relied upon to hold steady.

If I'm tweeting about a TV show while watching it, my context is "sitting on my couch, excited enough about what I'm watching to share my reactions."

In this context, I'm using several different channels: Twitter, a smartphone, and TV.



Chapter 3: Face Reality | Page 40

Tweeting while watching TV is an example of two channels working together to support a single context.

A single channel can also support multiple contexts.

For example, a website may serve someone browsing on a phone from their couch, on a tablet at a coffee shop, or on a desktop computer in a cubicle.

When you begin to unravel a mess, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of things that need to come together to support even the simplest of contexts gracefully on a single channel.

"It's just a ____________" is an easy trap to fall into. But to make sense of real-world problems, you need to understand how users, channels, and context relate to each other.

What channels do your users prefer? What context are they likely in when encountering what you're making? How are they feeling? Are they in a hurry? Are they on slow Wi-Fi? Are they there for entertainment or to accomplish a task?

Considering these small details will make a huge difference for you and your users.



Chapter 3: Face Reality | Page 56

A mind map illustrates the connections between concepts, objects, ideas, channels, people, and places within a particular context.

These concepts don't necessarily live under an established hierarchy or sequence. For example, in the diagram above, I've outlined the various aspects of running a pizza parlor as the owner (me!) might think about them.



Chapter 3: Face Reality | Page 61

Everything is easier with a map. Let me guide you through making a map for your own mess.

On the following page is another favorite diagram of mine, the matrix diagram.

The power of a matrix diagram is that you can make the boxes collect whatever you want. Each box becomes a task to fulfill or a question to answer, whether you're alone or in a group.

Matrix diagrams are especially useful when you're facilitating a discussion, because they're easy to create and they keep themselves on track. An empty box means you're not done yet.

After making a simple matrix of users, contexts, players, and channels, you'll have a guide to understanding the mess. By admitting your hopes and fears, you're uncovering the limits you're working within.

This matrix should also help you understand the other diagrams and objects you need to make, along with who will use and benefit from them.



Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 68

When you're cleaning up a big mess, assess the spaces between places as well as the places themselves.

A place is a space designated for a specific purpose.

For example, if you built a public park, you might make a path to walk on, a picnic area, a playground, some bathrooms, and a soccer field. These areas were made with tasks in mind.

If parkgoers wear down a path through your fresh laid grass, you as the parkitect (ha!) could see it as an annoyance. Or you could see it as a space between places and pave over it so people can get where they want to go without walking through the mud.

A space is an open, free, or unoccupied area.

Space may not have a designated purpose yet, but that doesn't stop users from going there.

No matter what you're making, your users will find spaces between places. They bring their own context and channels with them, and they show you where you should go next. Find areas in flux and shine a light on them.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 115

Joan is the social media coordinator for an airline that recently merged with another airline. Overnight, her team became responsible for twice as much work as before. She's also now responsible for managing twice as many people.

As the details of the merger iron out, duplicative channels have to be dealt with. For example, they now have two Twitter accounts and two help directories on two different websites. To tie everything together, Joan:



Chapter 7: Prepare to Adjust | Page 130

  1. Have you explored the depth and edges of the mess that you face?
  2. Do you know why you have the intent you have and what it means to how you will solve your problem?
  3. Have you faced reality and thought about contexts and channels your users could be in?
  4. What language have you chosen to use to clarify your direction?
  5. What specific goals and baselines will you measure your progress against?
  6. Have you put together various structures and tested them to make sure your intended message comes through to users?
  7. Are you prepared to adjust?