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Guide To Online Proofing for Graphic Designers


The proofing process is a crucial aspect of any graphic designer’s workflow working in a team and with the client. 

In the world of graphic design, the proofing process is certainly nothing new, and it has been around for centuries, as old as the field of graphic design itself. However, although many aspects of graphic design have dramatically evolved over the years, many graphic designers and creative agencies still rely on ineffective email-based email proofing, or even worse, hardcopy-based proofing processes. 

This is where online proofing comes in to streamline the proofing and approval processes in a graphic design workflow. 

Online Proofing and The Traditional Proofing Process

Online proofing is the act of using a cloud-based online proofing software solution to facilitate the proofing process from start to finish, entirely online and in real-time. 

To understand the concept of online proofing and its benefits, however, we have to briefly discuss the history of the proofing process and how it has evolved over the years.

The term “proofing” originates from the early days of the printing industry. 

Back then, when a client, for example, wanted to print 100 posters, the printing company would first print one poster for the client to check whether the design, size, color, and other aspects of the poster were correct. This mock print is called a “proof,” hence the name of the process, and as we can see, this process allows the printing company to prevent potentially costly errors, and the proof print acts as an approval agreement between the printing company and the client. 

This hardcopy-based proofing process lasts for some time until the invention of the computer. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, personal computers were already common, and now creative agencies can show their clients a “soft proof” by showing the image on a computer screen or sending a floppy disk, USB drive, or other physical storage devices. 

Then, the internet came, and now we can use emails to send image files, giving birth to the email-based proofing process, which has become a staple in the last two decades. 

However, the email-based proofing process isn’t perfect and has several flaws, for example: 

  • We need to first export/render the files before we can send the proof to reviewers
  • The reviewer must possess the right software on their computer to open the proof file (which can result in compatibility issues and confusion)
  • Back-and-forth emails with scattered attachments in a long project, it can be challenging to find a particular version of a file
  • Lack of transparency and accountability. We can’t know who has opened an email and viewed the proof files (or not).

This is where online proofing comes in.

Online Proofing for Graphic Designers: The Concept

Online proofing is made possible by using an appropriate online proofing platform for graphic designers like WeAproove, which provides a centralized platform for graphic designers and approvers to communicate, leave feedback/comments, and collaborate in real-time. 

While the actual online proofing process may vary depending on the platform, a typical online proofing process in graphic design will be as follows: 

  1. A graphic designer uploads a file proof to an online proofing platform like WeAproove so that the proof can be reviewed and approved in the system.
  2. The graphic designer then invites approvers and other relevant stakeholders to access the proof file uploaded on the online proofing system.
  3. The invitees will then get an invite link to access the cloud-based online proofing software without downloading and installing anything. 
  4. Approvers and collaborators can leave comments and feedback directly on the proof file without needing to access other apps or move to another screen so that everyone can collaborate on the proof in real-time. 
  5. When needed, the graphic designer can upload another file (a revision), and all the different file versions will be stored in the online proofing platform, traceable and easily searchable. 

As we can see, online proofing facilitates easier collaboration between graphic designers and other stakeholders, allowing a more effective and efficient proofing process to approve and launch the graphic design work faster. 

In turn, this will translate to saving more time, money, and resources for the graphic designer. 

Benefits of Online Proofing for Graphic Designers

Integrating online proofing in your graphic designer workflow can offer the following benefits:

Fewer Revision Cycles

Arguably the most significant benefit of online proofing for graphic designers is that it will typically result in fewer revisions for the project. 

Online proofing improves the transparency of the project by offering accountability for all stakeholders: we can easily monitor who is behind schedule, who is supposed to approve a deliverable but hasn’t, and so on. If the project involves different approvers, they can also check what the other reviewers commented so they won’t make redundant comments. 

This allows each revision cycle to be more effective. 

Reducing Back-and-forth Phone Calls And Emails

Back-and-forth emails typical in the email-based approval process can be very annoying and frustrating, especially when we have to go through hundreds of different emails in the project’s thread to find a single version of the deliverable. 

With an online proofing system in place, all file versions are traceable and searchable, and we can also trace who has left feedback on a specific version. 

Review And Approve From Anywhere And Anytime

In an email-based proofing process, the approver may need access to the associated software (i.e., Illustrator or Photoshop) before they can open the proof file. 

On the other hand, with cloud-based online proofing, reviewers and designers can review the proof files anytime and on any device. New collaborators won’t have to download a new app anytime they are invited to the online proofing platform

Reducing Approval Process Cost

On a long-term basis, online proofing can significantly lower the overall costs associated with the approval process, like printing and circulating a hard copy of the deliverable.

Also, by ensuring the project stays within deadline and within budget, we can increase the profitability of each project. 

Wrapping Up

For graphic designers, online proofing can significantly streamline the proofing process in any graphic design project. By providing a more transparent and efficient feedback process, all stakeholders involved in the graphic design project can collaborate more effectively. 

With all those benefits, investing in proper online proofing software can save not only time but will save you more money on each of your graphic design projects.

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