Chicago-based Black Dot Group, which delivers pre-media solutions for print and electronic media, prides itself on the innovative and creation programs it offers customers. The problem? Its soft proofing workflow based on Acrobat wasn’t delivering the user experience it wanted for all of its customers.
A part of The CAPS Group of independent graphic arts providers, Black Dot wanted to provide a more robust and powerful workflow. It wanted a streamlined user experience. It wanted to offer customers project management capabilities, so they could track proofs within the workflow. Finally, it didn’t want to reinvent the wheel.
At Graph Expo 2009, Black Dot found the soft proofing workflow of its dreams.
“We provide pre-media production and workflow solutions to a variety of markets,” explains Paul Kelley, Black Dot’s technical services manager. “With ES and its high res soft proofing option, we saw something we had never seen before. It had all the tool sets we need and the user experience we were looking for. That’s how we pitch it to our customers. It’s something that we-and they-will not see in any other product.”
With IO Integration’s help, ES has become an integral part of Black Dot’s creative process. “We could not have gone as far as we have without them, or roll it out as quickly,” says Kelley. “At the time, ES was a new product and in beta.”
Black Dot is set to celebrate its one-year anniversary using ES.
“We are using it from concept all the way to delivery of the file to the user,” says Kelley. “Our customers are benefiting from having an all encompassing workflow without lifting a finger. It’s a huge deal for our customers.”
It’s a huge deal for Black Dot also, its bottom line profiting from what it is bringing to customers—an affordable infrastructure, services, support and training. The approval process moves along briskly, with more people on board, involved in the workflow. “With tight time frames, we could not get the work done without this product,” says Kelley.
Implementation is a snap because ES is browser-based. “We’re not installing 20 locations and training 20 sets of people,” says Kelley. “We just send a link and our customer is part of the workflow. They are extremely happy with the low level knowledge and training to get into this. Our customers don’t need to use their IT group to manage their projects.”
With other workflows, customers are expected to learn a new system and conform to a specific procedure, notes Kelley. Now, customers click onto the proof from an email (sent when there is something to review) and get right to the page to review.
“ES lets us have any kind of review with any configuration,” says Kelley. “It’s dynamic even within the workflow. Job and workflow changes are in the hands of the clients’ project managers.”
“ES streamlines the review process for everyone involved, getting rid of all repetitive tasks around a soft review for those who are typically involved in the process,” says Kelley. “Customers do not have to manage files and proofs. ES takes care of all the busy work to get a soft proofing review or document review accomplished. It strips all the details away and gets the reviewer in and out of approval, so they can move on to the new task.”
Black Dot is using ES internally for its own approval workflow. One recent job involved an 800-page commercial catalog with six versions, different by such elements as SKU, price, web address, and phone. “We shared color plates and swapped black plates,” says Kelley. “We used ES to check minor differences and identify them, pixel by pixel, to see if anything changed during plate changes. Using ES helped contribute to a 64% reduction in page corrections.”
Black Dot’s customers are well trenched in using ES for content, but are still hesitant about making the jump to soft proofing for color. “They are excited about the possibility of doing it, but they are not ready yet,” explains Kelley. “They are using soft proofing in color environments, and they do use it to see correct colors. But customers still want that hard copy. They see soft proofing for color as happening in the future.”