When thinking about the mobile part of product strategy, I sometimes get lost in all the buzzwords and slogans defining what is and is not mobile. With so many voicing "expert" opinions on the way to approach mobile, I can't hear myself think.
Some of those buzzwords could do with a visit to unsuck-it.com. Take "channels" and "touchpoints". Often, these terms are what I'd call major suckage. Sometimes, I admit, I wield these terms in ways that only add to the suckage.
I'd also heard a lot of talk about "multi-channel" experiences, but that didn't seem to quite capture it. By "it", I mean, how to approach the contexts of users of the product in question. My mind kept coming back to the Precious presentation on "Patterns for Multi-Screen Strategies", to which I've referred my colleagues on more than one occasion. The folks at Precious highlight mobile not as a device or channel but as part of an "ecosystem of screens". Patterns for Multiscreen Strategies
Further light was shed for me on mobile, channels, and touchpoints, back in February 2012, when I came across a series of helpful articles by Colleen Jones on whether mobile is a channel and what is mobile. While I thought her quite right on many levels, including pointing out that mobile is not only a channel in the traditional senses of "channel", I wasn't quite ready to agree that "ecosystem of touchpoints" is a huge improvement.
Let's start with what is meant by "ecosystem". It's another term ripe for unsucking, and here's my take on it. "Ecosystem" is shorthand for "a cohesive set of elements that work together." Applied to user experience, an ecosystem is a cohesive set of elements that work together to form a user experience.
Now, let's move on to what we mean by "touchpoints". Looking at the diagram in What is Mobile, it seems like the touchpoints mentioned (e.g., SMS, niche phone apps) have merely moved us from the general "mobile channel" to the more specific "mobile channels".
I was getting a bit closer but still feeling bleeding uncomfortable when I heard people around me saying "channels" and "touchpoints" and not having a clear way to lead us forward.
It was a muddle-busting presentation if ever there were one. Chris defines channels and touchpoints and lays out the possible relationships betweend them. His definitions are:
CHANNEL = a medium of interaction with customers or users
TOUCHPOINT = a point of interaction involving a specific human need in a specific time and place
Now it all makes sense to me. (Thanks, Chris.) Of course a series of touchpoints can exist within a single channel. A single touchpoint can exist across multiple channels. This makes sense from the user's point of view.
So there you have it: "ecosystem", "touchpoint", and "channel" all unsucked, plus a framework and an experience mapping process for moving forward a product strategy that doesn't artificially separate "mobile" from everything else.