6 Ways to Organize Your Twist Channels

Customize your Twist channels to match your team's workflow

Illustration by Yin Weihung

When’s the last time you used a tech product completely out of the box and kept the “factory settings”? After your last phone purchase you probably downloaded all your favorite apps, fiddled with the presets, and updated your home screen to one of your favorite images. Customizing your tools, and making them work for you, is a core part of getting the most value out of technology.

The same is true for adapting a software product to a team setting. Selecting the right tool is one thing. Fine tuning it for your company’s specific work style is another thing entirely.

Using Twist with your team is no exception. A digital space to communicate deeply and share widely leaves endless possibilities for your team to work effectively, collaborate seamlessly, and build your company culture. You can kick start a conversation by starting a thread on any number of topics:

  • Brainstorming ideas for an upcoming product release
  • Proposing a new business development partnership
  • Last month’s sales numbers
  • Details on an upcoming team offsite
  • Introducing a new team member
  • Weekly updates on a project
  • Wishing a team member a Happy Birthday

However, it’s how you structure these conversations within channels that will leave your discussions organized, browsable, and findable later.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for organizing your Twist channels. What works for a consulting firm simply won’t work for an e-commerce company. It’s up to you to experiment with an organization system that works for everyone. Here are 6 channel setup ideas to explore!

The Team Method

This method is ideal for multi-department companies that want to separate their conversations based on their various teams. For instance, a team that’s a mix of designers, developers, financial analysts, and marketers might choose this channel organization system:

  • # Design
  • # Development
  • # Finance
  • # Marketing

This way, a thread titled “Revising Our Design Type System” would be started in the Design channel while a conversation about testing a new financial dashboard application would be created in the “Finance” channel.

The Team Method
The Team Method

This method helps keep team members focused on their department’s goals and objectives without getting lost in conversations that may not be entirely relevant to their day-to-day.

Product Tip: You can separate channels by team without the fear of creating silos! Twist helps build transparency with various features like Channel preview that enable you to view conversations without joining a channel. This way you can browse channels to get a feel for what the rest of your company is working on, without joining too many channels.

Suitable for:

  • A large technology company with various departments (i.e. “Security”, “Product Development”, “Growth”)
  • A University organized by different faculties (i.e. “The Faculty of Science”, “The Faculty of Arts”, “The Faculty of Business”)
  • A small design agency divided into several disciplines (i.e. “Prototyping”, “UX”, “User Research”)

The Project Setup

Some of the greatest projects arise from teams who are deeply collaborative and interdisciplinary. Organizing your Twist channels by projects is a way to support cross-functional communication. Here’s what this might look like:

  • # Cascade Product Feature
  • # Give a Little Campaign
  • # HomeStyles Event
  • # Website Overhaul

Creating one channel per project helps separate different initiatives and enables you to create threads that are very detailed.

The Project Setup
The Project Setup

For instance, a channel dedicated to a new product feature might include threads about researching the feature, designing the feature, having engineers implement it, completing beta testing, and launching it to the world. This method allows for hyper-focused discussions about a project that everyone has access to. And when all the threads around a specific project are kept in one place, everyone knows where to look for it.

Suitable for:

  • A Government agency working on multiple public programs (i.e. “Step to It: Activity in Arizona, “Bike Better: Safety for Cylclists”, “Youth-to-Youth: Peer Mentorship Program)
  • An experiential marketing company planning several events (i.e. “VistaSouth Art Gala”, “Tinofi’s Launch Party”, “Linkraft’s Grand Opening Celebration”)
  • An architecture firm designing various buildings (“12th Street Ascent High Rise”, “Middleton Public Library Renovation”, “Chelsea Modern Art Museum”)

The Location Layout

Whether you’re a distributed team with offices in various cities, or have customers all over the world, location is also an effective way to organize your Twist channels. For instance, with buyers that span different regions you can organize your channels accordingly:

  • # Africa
  • # Asia
  • # Europe
  • # North America

This method makes it simpler to tailor your customer experience appropriately to different markets and hone in on discussions that will help your customers have the best experience possible based on their location and culture. A channel titled “#Asia” might have threads like “WeChat Integration Launch in China” or “Singapore Customer Research Trip”.

The Location Layout
The Location Layout

Alternately, a team spread across different offices might want to share a Twist team for heightened visibility, but prefer to keep separate channels.

  • # Austin Office
  • # Bangalore Office
  • # NYC Office
  • # Toronto Office

If geo-dispersed teams are relatively self-sufficient or have specific areas of focus, this channel organization style will give different teams their own communication workspace while maintaining a thread of continuity with the rest of the company.

The Location Layout
The Location Layout

Suitable for:

  • A home cleaning company with operations in multiple cities (i.e. “Vancouver”, “Kelowna”, “Whistler”)
  • A large news organization with satellite offices in various countries (i.e. “The United States”, “Chile”, “England”)
  • A hardware company with customers spanning the world (i.e. “North American Market”, “South American Market”, “Asian Market”)

The Time Capsule Format

If your company operates on tight cycles, on either a monthly or quarterly basis, consider organizing your team by time periods. This method enables you and your team to focus your discussions on a certain time period and then lets you start fresh when a new one rolls around. In doing so, you create a time capsule where you can easily go back to what you were working on in “Q3 2017” or “August 2018”.

  • Winter 2019
  • Spring 2019
  • Summer 2019
  • Fall Summer 2019
  • Q1 2019
  • Q2 2019
  • Q3 2019
  • Q4 2019                
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • March 2019
  • April 2019              
Product Tip: With this method, it’s nice to keep a handful of channels visible on your channel list at one time so you can look to the past and plan for the future. However, if your list of time periods gets cluttered, simply archive channels. You’ll always be able to access them and unarchive them if necessary.
The Time Capsule Format
The Time Capsule Format

Suitable for:

  • A fashion company that releases a new line for each season (i.e. “Winter Collection 2019”, “Spring Collection 2019”, “Fall Collection 2019”)
  • A financial firm that closely watches profits for each quarter (“Q1”, “Q2”, “Q3”)
  • An academic institution that operates in semesters (i.e. “Fall Semester 2019”, “Winter Semester 2020”, “Spring Semester 2020”)

The Client Filing System

If you’re a consultancy or agency whose work revolves around your clients, organizing your Twist channels based on these customers is a strong choice. This method promotes a dedicated area for each client so you can discuss their needs, work on deliverables, and processes everything from client feedback to payments.

Whether you’re a small web design agency or a large risk and compliance consultancy, your clients drive your business. Giving their problems the space it deserves through dedicated channels will strengthen your work and enable you to deliver better results for them.

Simply create a channel for each of your active clients:

  • # Kraft
  • # Lush Cosmetics
  • # Purdy’s Chocolate
  • # Whole Foods
The Client Filing System
The Client Filing System

Suitable for:

  • A human resources consultancy sourcing candidates for multiple companies (i.e. “Peerless Engineering”, “BEW Entertainment”, “LENO Design”)
  • A branding agency developing visual identities for various startups (i.e. “Sqilt”, “Taritzo”, “Fizz Water”)
  • A corporate law firm balancing cases for different clients (i.e. “James Allnay Auto”, “Litmus Cinemas”, “Creativez Cozmetics”)
Product Tip: If you’re comfortable with a client seeing the entire contents of your channel about them, invite them as a guest in Twist to eliminate back-and-forth over email. Alternately, create a separate channel specifically dedicated to client communication!

The Hybrid Approach

Many things can be true at once. You may be an agency that operates in various locations. You could have many departments at your company that also work within distinct time periods.

The answer? The “hybrid approach”.

This Twist organization system combines some or all of the methods above into a communication system for your team that’s flexible, dynamic, and captures everything you need. This lets you break down the potential confines of a more specific Twist organization system that might feel too rigid for your particular team.

A word of warning: this method runs the risk of channel bloat. You may run into the issue of too many channels that leads to confusion about which is the most appropriate for a particular conversation. Opt for simplicity when possible and don’t create channels for every possible use case.

At Doist, we follow The Hybrid Approach ourselves. Our two products, Twist and Todoist, and our overarching umbrella company, Doist, factors into how we organize our channels.

For instance rather than having just a “Twist” Channel or just a “Marketing”, we have a “Twist Marketing” channel as well as a “Todoist Marketing” channel and a “Doist Marketing” channel.

The Hybrid Approach - Our system at Doist
The Hybrid Approach – Our system at Doist

Aside from these department- and product-focused channels we also create channels based on particular projects or topics. As an additional layer of organization, we differentiate different product channels with color. For instance channels related to Todoist are red, while channels related to Twist and Doist are blue and gray, respectively.

Doist Twist Channels organized by DO cycle period and project
Doist Twist Channels organized by DO cycle period and project

Harris Osserman, the Founder and CEO of Talk Hiring uses the hybrid approach with his team in Twist, mixing project channels with more general channels.

TalkHiring's Twist Channels
Talk Hiring’s Twist Channels

“Company Updates are for any updates related to the business. Tech Questions are used as a way for me to answer technical questions that the two developers might have questions about; I’m an engineer by training but haven’t been doing as much development as of late. Using a channel like “Tech Questions” is a great way for my colleagues and I to learn from each other. Web Redesign is for exactly what you would think…discussing our website redesign!”

Their approach to channel organization has worked well for their team and enables them to do their best work together.

“Twist has been fantastic! We’re a distributed team, and using Twist allows us to stay in contact without distracting each other. We like the forum-style of Twist because it keeps our conversations organized without people going off topic.”

Suitable For:

  • A home hardware store operating in multiple cities with different departments (i.e. “Austin – Marketing”, “Customer Care”, “Cincinnati – Sales”)
  • A local moving company with several departments and regular recurring clients (i.e. “Logistics”, “Northern New Mexico College”, “Finance”)
  • A global consulting firm working in monthly cycles (i.e. “North America – September 2019, “Asia – September 2019”, “Australia – October 2019”)

Making Your Channel Organization Official

Once you’ve selected a channel organization system, let your team know! Have proper guidelines so that your channels stay neat and organized. Make sure to document this in a place that’s easily accessible to your team so that you can always come back to it.

At Doist, we work in our DO Project management system that consists of 4-Week DO cycles. We have channels for each of our respective projects or “DOs”. Here’s a glimpse into our documented process for naming channels:

Doist’s DO Coordinator, Lucile Foroni, makes channel naming conventions clear in our “Squad Leader Checklist” document.

Explicit naming and color conventions for your Twist organization system will go a long way in keeping your team discussions easily accessible for everyone. If something isn’t where it needs to be, you always have the option to move a thread between channels!

A strong method for organizing your channels in Twist is the difference between easily referencing conversation and getting lost in a sea of information overload. Time spent deciding on a logical system for you and your team will be time well spent!