New Feature: Test Mode

Call administrators now have the option of testing a call in ProposalSpace before making it live.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Once your call is complete (has all the information required for activation), you simply click a button to place it in “test mode”.
  2. The system automatically generates a special URL, which you and your testers use to create and submit test proposals.
  3. Administrators, review chairs and reviewers have full access to the call—as if it were active—for three days.
  4. After three days, the call is automatically taken out of test mode. If you need more time, just let us know. We’ll be glad to extend the test period.
  5. Any data entered during the testing period is automatically deleted when you activate the call.

Word’s Hidden Costs

You should never distribute your call as a Word file for people to fill out and send back to you. It might seem like a fast, easy solution—especially for smaller calls—but it will end up costing you more than you think.

Here are just some of the challenges you face using Word:

  • Although Word is ubiquitous, different versions and platforms mean you can’t be certain everyone who downloads your file is going to be able to open it, edit it and send it back to you without compatibility issues.
  • You can include pages of instructions and use highlighting and colorful text to draw attention to required fields, but you’re still going to have to review every submission to make sure it was filled out properly.
  • You’ll need an iron-clad organizational plan to track every submission you receive, including revisions.
  • Most authors expect an acknowledgment that their submission made it safely into your hands. You’ll need to send a confirmation email for every submission you receive.
  • Any file you get back could be carrying something you don’t want on your computer. You’ll need to make sure you scan every submission for viruses and other malware.
  • You’ll need to back up every file you receive on a regular basis in case something bad happens to your computer or network.

Using Word to distribute your call might make sense because it’s easy to use, readily available and basically free (if you’ve already got a license). But once you start to receive submissions, the costs—especially time costs—really start to add up.

First Impressions  

How many times have you heard someone say (or have said yourself): “This food is terrible. Try it.”?

Well, that’s the impression we got when we came across a recent call for abstracts that included 25 pages of instructions explaining how to use their online submission system.

Think about the message that sends to potential submitters. How many are going to look forward to submitting an abstract when they’re being told—quite clearly—that not only is the first bite going to be hard to swallow, but that if they’re selected, the rest of the process is probably going to be just as bad?

No submission process should require reams of instructions. But that’s beside the point. The real point is this: Your call is often your first impression with potential submitters. Don’t waste it turning people off.

4 Tips for Getting Announcement Emails Noticed  

The most important part of any email is the subject line. Think of it as the “packaging” for your message. Not only should it summarize the contents, it must also pique the recipient’s interest enough to make him want to open the message to find out more.

So why do so many conferences send out call notices with uninteresting subject lines like “Annual Meeting Call for Speakers Now Open” or “Call for Speakers – Annual Meeting”? Are call announcements an exception to the rule? Of course not. While it may be easy to get people who are already excited about speaking at your conference to open up an email from you, those aren’t the people you need to worry about. They’ve already committed to action. Instead, you should be focused on people who don’t know about your conference or who might be on the fence about responding to your call.

Here are some tips for engaging those people:

  • Keep it short. The more words you use, the more likely your message will be muddled. Keep the details for the body of the message.
  • Define value. Tell the recipient up front what he gets out of opening the message.
  • Convey urgency. People are far more likely to act when there’s a deadline.
  • Personalize. Keep the focus on the recipient.

New Feature: Grouped Checkboxes

Our drag-and-drop form builder now allows multiple checkbox items in a single form element.

Checkbox screenshot (before)Checkbox screenshot (after)Why is this important? Let’s say you want to collect A/V requirements from your speakers.

Before (right, top), you had to create a separate question on the form for each requirement.

Now (right, bottom), you can include all of those checkboxes in one element.

We’ve also added new requirement options for grouped checkboxes: You can make the checkboxes optional, you can require that at least one box be checked, or you can require all the boxes to be checked.

Usability Enhancements

We’ve just released two enhancements that make the site a little easier to use…

For call administrators: We’ve made it easier—and faster—to view submission details from the Submissions page. Previously, when you clicked on a submission’s title, you were taken to a new page. Now, the same information is displayed in an overlay.

For authors: We’ve added a tab to the top of the proposal screens that links to the call’s submission instructions. Now you have access to that information throughout the entire submission process. (Previously, the instructions were only displayed when you first created the proposal.)

Let us know what you think!

New Feature: Late Submissions  

Late submissions screenshotProposalSpace now allows you to accept late submissions for a call without having to change the call’s official submission deadline. The new setting (to the right, cleverly named “Late Submissions”) is on the Submission Settings page right below the Submission Deadline field.

If you enter anything other than zero in the field, ProposalSpace will continue to allow submissions for that number of days without altering the official submission deadline. We’ll also display a notice to users letting them know that although the submission deadline has passed, late submissions are still being accepted.

Introductory Pricing Extended  

We’ve extended our introductory pricing another month!

Just start a call in ProposalSpace before April 1, 2010 and you’ll lock in the special pricing of $49.95 to activate the call and $4.50 for every submission. You don’t have to activate the call before April 1, you just have to create it by then.

So hurry up and start your calls before this offer ends!

New Pricing Announced

ProposalSpace has always been the more affordable way to manage abstracts. We’ve worked hard to create a site that gives conferences all the tools they need to collect, review and select proposals for a fraction of the cost of traditional abstract management systems. But some of our users thought our pricing was a little too complicated and the base price for smaller conferences a bit too high. So we decided to do something about it.

Starting today, you can manage a call in ProposalSpace for just $49.95 plus $4.50 per submission. That’s it. No customization fees, account maintenance fees, upgrades or hidden charges to worry about. Just $49.95 plus $4.50 per submission. (Compare that to the $10,000+ other abstract management systems charge.)

Our new pricing means the total cost for a conference with 20 submissions is under $140! Fifty submissions cost less than $275. Even a conference with 500 submissions can manage their entire collection, review and selection process for under $2,300.

Pricing that’s easy and fits any budget. That’s the ProposalSpace difference.

New Software Release

We’ve reorganized the My Calls, My Proposals and Call Settings pages to remove some of the clutter and to make things easier to find. All of the functions that were on the My Calls and My Proposals pages are still available, we just moved them to the Call Settings and Proposal Details pages.

Call administrators will also notice a big change in the navigation for the Call Settings page, which now has the basic settings, tools and settings for all the major functions (submission, review, selection, notification) accessible via tabs across the top of the page. We also created a way for call administrators to archive completed calls so that they’re not in the way but can still be accessed if need be.