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A better way to Channel Affino

Affino Usability - Channel Grid

We’ve got some great usability enhancements coming in Affino 7.5. One of the best is going to be the new interface when you add Channels. It will answer hundreds of questions all by itself and make the process of adding new aspects to your online business that much easier.


Usability First


Channels are at the heart of Affino, they allow you to create dedicated areas on your site for the key activities you will be doing online such as blogs, forums, forms, product listings, checkouts etc. You only set them up when you need them, and because that is a fairly rare activity in Affino the process hasn’t been made as usable as it should be.


We know from our conversations that the more you use Affino the more you love it, so we’re committed to making it as easy to explore all Affino has to offer. The new Channel adding process does just that, inviting you to explore new areas and making it much easier to do so.


Looking Back


A few years ago we introduced Standard content channels to Affino. The idea behind the new standardised approach was that we could provide a single interface for managing all the ’pure’ content ranging from news articles, through to FAQs, Presentations and Glossaries. It allowed us to quickly roll out publishing workflows for all content, unified tagging (taxonomies), live editing and much more.


The downside was that it became more complicated to set up new aspects from scratch and Affino’s performance took a hit since we now processed a great deal more for each and every standard content page.


Over the years we have made adding channels considerably easier by improving the initial Affino build to include all the key channel types, meaning that for the first site everything is ready to be tweaked. We introduced the jump lookups which allow you to instantly do a detailed lookup or add new settings where they are required when adding channels. We also improved the performance over the years through multiple optimisation rounds.


The issue remained though that when you came to add new channels or new sites the process was needlessly complicated and the performance issues have never fully gone away. That all changes with the upcoming release.


The Way Ahead


The new Channel type selector (see above) is a great evolution from the simple drop-down we had previously. We have renamed many channel types so they are now clearer and have provided nice thumbnails of the main screen. You will also notice that blog, article, event and FAQ are all new channel types in their own right.


Breaking out the content types into specific channels means that Affino now does most of the setup for you. It makes sure the correct presentation styles are in place for each channel and prevents you from accidentally mixing up incompatible, or removing presentation styles you need. It also means that Affino now only highlights the settings / profiles you actually need to make the channel live.


We are very proud of the work we have done with the new responsive skins in Affino 7.5, and a big part of that comes from the blistering performance and time it takes for the pages to display fully on the screen. Core to that improvement has been a much tighter architecting around what is displayed on each screen, and for Affino to identify that up-front when rendering the page.


By splitting out the different content types into distinct channels we ensure that that performance advantage will always be there. Affino knows from the outset the main purpose of the page and only runs the processes required.


We have many other usability improvements lined up, including a great new security lock-down panel that presents a simple way to lock down the control centre to display only what your team is using.

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