January 29, 2009
Filed under: site updates
For months we here at Team Central have been working to upgrade the entire site in an effort to remove old, outdated pages and consolidate navigation and content in a way that’s more intuitive. The object was to create a more pleasant user experience so that you, our users, can find what you need fast without any broken links, ambiguous navigation or frustrating dead ends. It’s still a work in progress, but we think it’s lightyears ahead of the “old” ASICentral.
So, without further ado, let me try to break down some of the most obvious changes to the site:
Our search, powered by Google, allows you to find what you need fast. Just type in a keyword and hit “Go” — it’s that simple!. And best yet, it’s at the top of every page, so if you can’t find something, just look to the search box at the top of the page.
In an effort to consolidate all our navigation, we knew we had to place it in one intuitive place, so we decided to make room for the search box at the top of ASICentral by moving all the horizontal navigation to the left side, vertically. (WHERE IS THE OLD NAVIGATION? SEE BELOW FOR LIST)
All of ASICentral’s highest levels of navigation — for instance, Members and Join — are represented in our vertical navigation with enhanced iconography for ease of recognition. Everything you need to find on ASICentral can be found here, from ESP Online tutorials and Education, to Research and Help. And best of all, it’s on every page so you never lose your way around the site.
Features: Hover over one of the left navigation items that has a little arrow to its right, like Join. Notice that a level of sub-navigation appears to the right (a “flyout” menu) allowing you to choose a member type. Move your cursor to Distributor and you’re presented with another level of sub-navigation. Click on any level of navigation with the flyouts for quick access.
No, these aren’t the stale slices of Wonder Bread you crumble up and throw to the birds, but a clever level of navigation in the top tab of all sub-content pages that allows you to know where you are on the site at all times.
For instance, if you drill down through, say, Join–>Distributor–>Membership Benefits you will find that at the top of the page, under the ASI Central tab, you have a level of navigation — or breadcrumb – that shows you exactly where you are within the site. So, if you want to go just one level up to Distributor, or to the main Join landing page, you can do so right at the top of the page.
Features: For clarity, most levels of navigation preceding the final breadcrumb have their own splash page with thumbnail images and clearly defined explanations. For instance, click on the top level area Education and all the content under it is now presented in a splash page.
Everything can be found in the vertical left navigation, including:
Distributor and Supplier Services, such as online tools and resources like ESP Online:
Help, such as FAQs, Product Training and contact information:
Guide, such as content like newsletters, is now called Directory:
Markets has been combined within Research:
From the old “Guide” we took the Blogs and Social Neworks and combined them with an Industry Sites section of related web sites. All this content can now be found under the new “Social” listing.
The Green, or Eco-Friendly, market is all the rage and appears to have some staying power in the industry. So, we decided that under Research we should have a Green Market category that presents users with all our relevant content pertaining to this very hot segment of the ad specialty industry.
And that’s the gist of it! Of course, if you have any questions, comments or feedback whatsoever regarding the changes, we’d love to hear them. Either post a comment here or email email@example.com.
Hope you like the changes!
January 18, 2009
My sixth-grade teacher once asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and, without hesitation, I blurted out “Game Show Host!” Of course, this admission became increasingly odder and more uncomfortable as each male student after me proclaimed aspirations of a more manly nature … you know, like cop, fireman or breakdancer (did I mention these were the 80s?). My shortsightedness to feign an interest in what was cool or acceptable at the time resulted in a good, old-fashioned playground pummeling, and I never again spoke about an interest in game shows … until now!
Plunked in front of a TV set like Martin Tupper, I was raised on a healthy diet of “Press Your Luck”, “$50,000 Pyramid”, “Card Sharks”, “Jokers Wild”, and … my all-time favorite … “Family Feud”! Richard Dawson was the host with the most, the epitome of smooth, a suave and sophisticated gentleman with a wry wit and intense charm who knew how to schmooze the ladies and steal kisses from the mouths of wives whose husbands clapped and watched. A genius! And I wanted to be him.
And today I get that chance … well, minus the kissing.
WELCOME TO FAMILY FEUD, PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS-STYLE!
With this month’s release of its annual Apparel Sales Survey, Counselor magazine has given me the opportunity I have waited a lifetime for … to take the big stage and ask you, the family audience, questions about a topic that we have surveyed — in this case, distributor apparel sales.
DIRECTIONS: I’ll provide you with the question posed to industry distributors along with their top answers in random order, and you try to guess which one is the most popular. The winner gets, well, not much, maybe a mention in the blog and a Coke or something, but it’s the best we can do with the economy and all. So be sure to send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org with a listing of all your answers. Got it? Then let’s play the feud!
QUESTION 2: In 2008, which category specified had the highest percent of distributor apparel sales? Top 4 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 3: Relative to all distributor promotional products sales, how would you say sales of apparel have changed over the past year? Top 3 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 4: How did distributor sales volume in uniforms change within the past year? Top 3 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 5: What are the top three purposes for the promotional apparel distributors sell? Top 3 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 6: What are the top markets of apparel purchases? Top 8 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 7: Which category specified represents the highest percentage of overall distributor apparel sales? Top 5 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 8: How important do distributors believe brand names are to promotional apparel sales? Top 5 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 9: What percentage of distributor wearables purchases are manufactured outside the U.S.? Top 3 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 10: Compared to 2007, has the amount of product distributors decorated in-house changed? Top 3 answers are on the board:
QUESTION 11: What percent of all distributor apparel purchases are blanks? Top 5 answers are on the board:
Don’t forget to send answers now and check the blog often for results. Of course, if you want to see how you did, just check out the updated Apparel Research section of ASICentral for the Counselor Apparel Sales Survey … but not before you send your answers!
“Love ya, will see ya here on the feud” (I just had to sign off like Richard — he’d be proud.)
January 16, 2009
Filed under: The ASI Show
WINGman NOTE: This is the first Team Blog post by Chinstrap. Show him some love.
This year’s ASI Show Orlando marked the first first-ever remote broadcast of the ASI Internet Radio Show. Awesome, right?! Well, depends on who you ask.
The superhero team of Lil Spice and I had the unenviable task of literally packing up the entire Pennsylvania-based studio and flying it to Florida for two broadcasts, then flying home and setting the studio back up for a third consecutive broadcast. Yes, you heard right. Our tight show schedule actually had us packing up the equipment right at the end of our Day 2 broadcast in Orlando, then flying back with it to our home base here in Trevose to set up for a radio show the following morning. Back-to-back-to-back is how we rolled, and I could think of a few adjectives better than “awesome” to describe the experience, but I digress.
So, how do you fly with all this radio equipment, you ask? The answer is with a huge, awkwardly shaped equipment case that, unfortunately for me, ended up outweighing Lil Spice, so the job of schlepping it through the state of Florida fell on my often-dislocated shoulders. But needless to say my limbs ended up staying in place and it’s safe to say that set-up went very smoothly.
The first show started early Saturday morning amid a huge crowd of attendees. Highlights included a q/a session with David Blaise and of course the bikini models that handed out radio show pins to the crowd (don’t worry, I took photos).
The Radio show on day two was equally as exciting, just without the models. The stand out for me had to have been when Counselor’s own Dave Vagnoni gave 3 contestants a chance to deliver their best ‘escalator pitch’, which actually involved Dave running back up the escalator after every pitch, very amusing. Our show on Sunday also included a hilarious celebrity look-alike contest that was easily won by a Dick Cheaney clone.
Breakin’ it down
Overall the show was a blast and boy do I miss that weather. But here’s the best part, we are doing it all over in Dallas in a few weeks. It was lots of fun and I urge you and your celebrity look-alike friends to join us.
I hope you enjoy the rest of these photos and I will see you in Dallas.
SteVIN – aka ‘ChinStrap’
January 7, 2009
Filed under: site updates
Remember those old Taco Bell commercials with the tagline “Change is Good”? The thinking behind that ad campaign was that not only are their tacos made of cheap meat, but they’re also so inexpensive that you’ll need deep pockets to keep all your change. (Apologies to Team Blog designer “Crack” who heads to the border almost daily.)
Well, as you might have already noticed, ASICentral has undergone a different type of change, one that I believe is equally as good as the kind you might find unexpectedly in your pocket after consuming copious amounts of junk food, but without the intestinal distress (at least, I hope).
Replacing the former one-dimensional News area, the new “News Rotator” is a more dynamic, multi-level feature that serves content screens at timed intervals. Think AOL.com. So, instead of being able to offer our users the maximum of seven stories at a given time, we can offer them four times that, and in a more aesthetically pleasing way.
But just like anything else, change sometimes requires an explanation. So here’s a few pointers about our new News Rotator:
If you’re still unsure of how to control the rotator, just think of your media players and how you might navigate through your CDs and DVDs. Yeah, it’s like that.
There ya have it, the new News Rotator! Like it, hate it, got ways you think would improve it? Send us a note at email@example.com now, or just comment below.
January 6, 2009
Filed under: The ASI Show
Didn’t get to go to the first industry show of the new season? Have no fear … Team Blog is here! Experience the show as if you were there with our chronological, blow-by-blow account of all that went down in sunny F-L-A, including photos, videos, audio and more. Enjoy!
SATURDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON: “Education Day”
Traditionally, a time for suppliers to set up their booths and distributors to attend education sessions … so relatively calm overall. But ASI was on the case anyway and had a chance to catch up with some of the education session speakers and attendees — Find out what they had to say:
SATURDAY EVENING: “Distributor Choice Awards”
SUNDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON: “ASI Show Orlando, Day 1″
Technically, it’s really Day 2, but it’s the first day the floor at the ASI Show opens, and that’s when the fun really begins. And that’s where we find ASI’s finest combing every nook and cranny searching for cool new products!
SUNDAY EVENING: “ASI Fashion Show” and “ASI Show Gala at Universal”
It was a festive atmosphere at the ASI Fashion Show as real models paraded down a real runway wearing the hottest trends for 2009! And afterwards, the party continued at the ASI Show Gala at Universal.
SUNDAY MORNING & AFTERNOON: “ASI Show Orlando, Day 2″
OK, on to Day 2 (or is it Day 3? Well, it’s the final day if that helps!) … and again we find our very own Joe Haley scouring the Show floor for hot new products. Also on the floor, the Radio Show Editors prepare for another live show, and Tony Robbins, world-renowned authority on the psychology of leadership, prepares for his ASI Show Orlando keynote speech.
BONUS: MONDAY MORNING: “Radio Show Wrap”