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Custom Fields, Project Reordering & Public PDF Downloads

We just released three new features to help you manage your project experience on Ascribe.

Custom Project Fields

If the default project fields, such as “Size” and “Delivery Method” are not enough, you can now create fields for any data that you would like to show on your projects.

To set up Custom Project Fields, go to your Settings, click Custom Project Fields, then add the title of the field, e.g. “Number of Rooms” or “Our Budget”. You can choose to have these fields displayed on your online showcase and/or your PDF sheets.

Once you’ve created Custom Project Fields, they will be available on any project to add data. Special note: If you are using custom templates for your online portfolio or PDFs, you will need to add a snippet of code to your templates. Reference this page to copy the code you will need or call our office @ 616.742.2810 for technical help.

Publicly Downloadable PDFs

How great would it be if all you had to do is add a link to your portfolio and suddenly all of your projects allowed people browsing your portfolio to download a PDF of any project. Done!

From the “Sheets” tab, choose which template you want to be used to generate the PDF, and click “Save”.  Then, make sure you have selected photos for PDF use in the Photos area.  If you are using Default Templates that is all you need to do.  If you are using custom templates for you portfolio, as most Ascribe users are, you will need to add this link code to your online templates in the “Project” template (you can call our office for help 616.724.2810). Here is the link code:  <a href=’/{{ company.permalink }}/sheet/pdf?user_project_ids={{ project.id }}’>“Download PDF”</a>

Drag-Drop Project Reordering

The third new feature is Drag-Drop Project Reordering. It’s simple enough to use. Previously the order of your projects was driven by the most recent one saved. Now, to customize the order of your projects, from your dashboard, click the Projects tab. To reorder any particular group, click the group name. You will see a link a the top named “Reorder Projects”. Click this link, then drag and drop the projects into your desired order. Finally, click “Complete Reordering” to finish and return to normal mode. Your projects will now display in their new order.

Major Upgrades

New PDF Generation tool called “Sheets”

Doing a Proposal?  Let Sheets help!  Sheets allows you to dynamically generate and download PDF documents for your projects.  Simply add one or more projects to your PDF queue, select a PDF Template from your collection and click “Download PDF”.

To manage photos for your PDFs, go in to the “Photos” area for that project and drag your photos into the “PDF” tab inside the “Photo Usage” area. To sort, drag each photo left or right until you have your desired order. Your PDFs will use the full resolution photo that you originally uploaded to insure the best quality for printing. (Disclaimer: If you upload a low resolution image, the printing quality will only be as good as that image)

One great thing about Sheets is once you get your PDF templates set the way you want them, swapping out projects and creating new PDFs is a snap! And, since you can access Ascribe from anywhere, you can empower the whole team to generate project sheets how and when they need them.

Customizing your PDF Templates: There are three default templates already set up for you, but you can customize them to look and behave anyway you like. PDF Templates are customized the same way Online Templates are, so anyone who can write HTML can customize your layouts. Don’t have anyone in house that writes HTML? Just contact us directly at 616.726.2490 and our staff can customize a set of templates per your specifications.

You can create as many PDF templates as you would like. For example, you could create a “Medical Offices” template and write an introduction paragraph about your medical office experience that appears at the top of the PDF.

When you are done customizing a template, upload a screenshot image of the layout into the template to help you keep your layouts well organized.

Feedback to make it better: We’ve put a lot of thought and effort into creating Sheets, but we also need your feedback to make it better.  We’ve added a Feedback form within the Sheets area so you can let us know how things are working and if there are additional features you would like to see added. Let us know. We are listening.

Photo area redesigned with new features

New Drag and Drop interface: Now, instead of check-marking the photos you want to use, you just drag them into the “Photo Usage” area.

Photo Sorting: Once your photos are in the Photo Usage area, drag them left or right to place them in the order you would like. The order you place them in is the order that will appear in your Online showcase and PDFs.

Photo Downloads: You now have the ability to download your full resolution images whenever you need them. Simply checkmark the photos you want to download and click “Download”. Multiple photos can be downloaded at once.

Edit Photo Rights and Captions on multiple photos: Select (checkmark) one or more photos, then edit the photo captions and photo sharing rights. Your changes will be applied to all the photos you selected.

Using different photos for your Online Showcase and your PDFs: Since you may not want to use the same photos for both your Online Showcase and your PDFs, you now have separate tabs for each within the Photo Usage area.

New Photo Details: Move your mouse over the “i” below a thumbnail and you’ll see larger version of the image with additional information.

General application design upgrades

Once you login you will see some differences. No more tabs, new design.

New “?” help bubbles to offer help tips when you need them.

New “Public View” button inside of Project Groups to take you to the public URL of that group segment.

New geocoding for project addresses to help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and further extend the ability to showcase your projects through custom Maps.

Ascribe now supports Alternative Energy project types!

If your company is working on projects in the Alternative Energy field, Ascribe now has related project types to better describe and capture this area of expertise.  Whether the project consists of Wind Energy, Solar Collection, Biomass or Geothermal Energy technology, we’ve got you covered.  If we’ve miss something, just let us know.  Our goal is to help our Ascribe users promote all of their project experience, including those practicing in the Alternative Energy arena.

Stay tuned as we are working to partner with Alternative Energy groups and associations to create new venues to showcase your expertise and experience in this growing industry.

Speed Upgrade

Many of you may have noticed a speedier Ascribe in recent days.  We’ve spent some time this week and last upgrading our servers and adding some speed.  These improvements are not only meant to make Ascribe faster, but are also needed to support upcoming features that will require more processing power.

Ascribe September Newsletter

In case you didn’t see it, check out our email newsletter for September.  Its full of useful information about new features and new project showcases.

New Project Profile Management Feature - “Private Details”

When you log into your Ascribe account today and click into a project profile you will notice a new section under the Hard Facts called “Private Details”.  This new section is for you to capture information about the project that will not be displayed publicly in any project portfolio.  You can include facts such as your budget on the project, or reference customer contact information.

This new feature is being introduced now, in preparation of the new Project PDF Creator (coming soon). The “Private Details” content can also be dynamically pulled into the (upcoming) printable project sheets.

Stay tuned for more information about the release date for the Project PDF Creator.

[caption id="attachment_234" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Private Details"]Private Details[/caption]

Project Profile Segment Descriptions - New Feature

We have just released a new feature for the Project Group Section in Ascribe that will allow you to create a description of your project profile segments.  Now when you create a group, or market segment, you can write a description about that group or segment that can be included in your website portfolio as an introduction or overview of your project groups.  For example, you may want to write a description about your Green Project Group that describes specifics about your experience in this area.  These project group descriptions will also be used in the upcoming PDF creation tool for creating and printing project profile sheets.

Note: This new feature is located in the Project Groups section in your Ascribe account.

[caption id="attachment_201" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Segment/Group Description"]Segment/Group Description[/caption]

If you’re new to Ascribe, check out this overview video

AEC Marketing & Business Development … when you get time

Marketing can lay a critical foundation for your sales pipeline, but often things don’t happen until you pick up the phone, or shake a hand. Marketing tools, like Ascribe, in the AEC industry cannot replace personal selling and networking, it can only grease the process and give you a reputation and brand exposure before you open the door….but you still need to open the door.

Reducing your risk of rejection is important for every sales person, but especially for those who are marketing or doing business development for their construction or design firms, but are also active project managers and designers.  Those people that spend their non-selling time doing other critical tasks such as project management, or leading a team, let’s be honest, if you get your proverbial hand slapped 9 out of 10 times you pick up the phone to sell a prospect on your service, you’re going to find it easy to “keep busy” with the other parts of your job rather than marketing or selling. Before you know it, you’re spending little to no time selling. But, what if your rejection rate was only 1 in 3. I think most of us would love those numbers, and not slink away from the phone. So, how do you reduce your risk?

First thing to do is to understand the difference between Active Needs and Latent Needs. Active Needs are associated with dissatisfaction caused by pain or desire. Prospects with Active Needs are easy to approach because they are open to change. In many cases, they are already actively looking for our services. Latent Needs exist when prospects fail to recognize that they are no longer satisfied with the status quo. People with Latent Needs will not buy. They are complacent with, and satisfied with, the status quo. Dangling a great opportunity in front of a person with Latent Needs is a waste of time.

If you spend your sales time only looking for prospects with Active Needs, you will be dealing with rejection 90% of the time. You will waste a lot of time leaving voice mails looking for that “easy” opportunity and get discouraged in the process.

In our industry, Latent Needs are abundant and plentiful. Owners get complacent with “OK” designs. GCs settle for “acceptable” service from their subcontractors. A far more affective approach to selling in this environment is to farm the prospects with Latent Needs. Convert their Latent Needs into Active Needs by creating a sense of momentum and curiosity around your company. Use tools like Ascribe to publish your project profiles, and Facebook and Twitter to publish your company’s activity.  Create excitement about a new feature of your service that your other clients are raving about. The objective of the call is not to close the sale, but to create momentum, excitement, and curiosity about your service. If this is your objective, then your failure rate will be around 10% instead of the 90%. In this mind-set you are successful and you understand this to be a valuable use of your time. Then, if you stumble on an Active Need, all the better.

Ascribe Designer By Day, Rocker By Night

Ascribe’s own Criag Nelson, who many of you may know as Ascribe’s talented lead project portfolio integration designer, as it turns out is an extremely talented lead vocalist and guitar player for a new band called Water Clock.  The Ascribe team got to witness this illuminating event this weekend and was thoroughly impressed!  So next time you have him do some work on your project portfolio, ask him to bellow a few notes from his latest song.  Craig has played with Papa Vegas, and recorded with Brian Vander Ark from The Verve Pipe.

[caption id="attachment_190" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Craig Ascribe"]Craig Ascribe[/caption]