When you’re launching a Web site, you’ve got to have priorities. Breaking news was my first priority. Now we’ve moving on to the second.
Computer Dealer News began publishing a printed directory of key industry contacts many years ago called Source Guide. This quickly became an essential
tool for doing business in the reseller channel, connecting partners with manufacturers, distributors and service providers. Despite the great feedback we received on Source Guide, we knew we faced a challenge when it came time to incorporate it into ITBusiness.ca. Online directories are often hard to navigate. Listings don’t always look attractive without dressing them up in Java applets that slow pages down. Finally, while the Internet allows for more immediate updates than a printed directory, that means user expectations are higher.
Our first version of the online CDN Source Guide was serviceable at best. Some users had trouble updating their listings, while sub-listings for manufacturers had a number of glitches. When we redesigned, we wanted to correct these errors while streamlining the way listings are organized. In the printed source guide, we generally listed by distributors and included their manufacturers. In the new version, we’re taken the opposite route so manufacturers list their distributors. Within these listings, we’ve also allowed manufacturers and distributors to list all of the products they carry for the first time.
The overall look and feel of CDN Source Guide has been enhanced to better reflect the rest of ITBusiness.ca’s visual style. Besides the cosmetic changes, we’ve also added more content into the mix. Resellers who use Source Guide for product searches will also have access to our latest Benchmark Tests and comparative reviews, as well as the CDN Resellers’ Choice Awards, our annual ranking based directly on surveys of our readership. The results of this year’s Resellers’ Choice Awards will be presented at this year’s Comdex Canada 2002 in Toronto next month.
There is another significant difference between launching a site-within-a-site like CDN Source Guide and the overall ITBusiness.ca product, which is focused around daily news. We can write the news, edit it, add graphics and make it as perfect as possible before publishing it to the outside world. With Source Guide, the quality of the directory is entirely dependent on the participation of the people who will be using it. We used to publish CDN Source Guide twice a year, which meant hounding people twice a year to update their listings. And then hound them again. And maybe one more time.
That’s okay in print because there’s a sharp deadline for production that, eventually, everyone out there respects. Online, we assume everything is up-to-date all the time — because it can be. Without sounding like a nagging parent, I encourage everyone who has listed with CDN Source Guide in the past to explore the new directory and make sure all the details are still correct. Consider yourselves part of our beta test, and let us know how we can further improve the system.
A note on passwords and logins: Those of you who updated your listing in the first version of the online CDN Source Guide were e-mailed user names and passwords. If you’ve forgotten or misplaced them, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll re-send them to you. If you’re joining us for the first time to add a listing, you can easily create an account following the instructions on the first page. If you are merely browsing, you have only to enter your subscription ID number to CDN.
I look forward to seeing CDN Source Guide evolve into a unique information resource for the Canadian channel community. You’ve always played a critical role in our success, but perhaps never as direct a role as you will now.