Why Event Channels?
As a Sportity app user, you have always worked with Channels. A Channel is a digital info board for your event, championship, or full-year activity. It's useful to think about Channel as a digital clone of a physical info board you would use in the real world.
We love Channels for its simplicity. Pick the password and start posting documents -- what can be easier? It worked just fine for many users and events. Over the years, more and more organizers have started to use the Sportity app – from small local clubs to large international federations. During this time we've received a lot of feedback and realised that the simplicity of the Channels sometimes causes issues both for organizers and end users.
We've spent countless hours discussing these problems and, more importantly, their root cause. Here are some of our findings.
Some organizers use a single Channel for serving multiple events. Sometimes, it's because of the structure of events, like the championships or series. In such scenarios, all events have the same participants, and organizers want them to be logged in for all events. Sometimes, it's because of the price, convenience or other reasons. In such cases, each event has its own folder, and all documents are placed there.
This usage leads to some non-very-obvious problems.For end users:
- As each user's phone downloads all documents for offline use, large channels demand a lot of space and traffic for the initial documents' download. This is especially problematic for users with old smartphones and a small amount of free space or users in roaming. In some cases, a single user has to download almost half a gigabyte of data just to access documents of one event in the series.
- Sometimes, people attend only one event, but as the channel contains other events' documents, they keep receiving push notifications for all the events. There is no option to "unsubscribe from folder notifications". This might be very annoying for people, which leads to a bad user experience at the event.
- Most features of the Sportity app are designed around the assumption that a single Channel represents a single event. Archiving, personal documents, feedback, cover image, timezones, live results integrations, etc. When a single Channel serves multiple events, many features will not work as intended.
- Confusion in understanding the pricing, especially in the context of archived or deleted channels. This is especially true for new customers, who need to learn the new concept of "Channel" while they think primarily about "events".
- More traffic and load on our servers. If posted documents are downloaded by users who don't want or need these documents, that generates a lot of extra traffic. Both users and us end up paying more.
- Inability to provide fair pricing. Our pricing model is based on the number of Channels, which should roughly correspond to the number and scale of the sports events and activities. A number of channels was our first proxy variable for pricing. Currently, an organiser of a single small event may pay the same price as an organiser of a series of events.
- Increased number of customer support requests from organisers confused with pricing or proper usage of Channel.
- Inability to implement event-specific advanced features like integration with our other software products. That includes chat functionality between different event participant groups, integration with accreditation, real-time live results for some sports, upcoming online registration platform, etc. All these things require linking the Channel with additional information about the event.
Overall, the root cause of all these issues is that the Channel does not always represent a single event
. A channel is a digital info board. An event is an activity in a bounded time and space. Often, each event will need its own separate info board, but it's not always the case.
It's useful to think about digital info board in terms of its physical counterpart. You may want to use the same info board across multiple events in a series. Or you may want to use more than one info board during the same event (for example, for participants, media, or volunteers). Or you may also want an info board for your club or organisation activity throughout the year.
We've realised that the assumption "a single Channel represents a single event" is no longer true. We wanted to solve this while keeping the Channel's simplicity and the familiar user interface, so you wouldn't have to relearn.
That's how we came up with the concept of an Event Channel.