What is Online Proofing and why is it Essential in Creative Media?

Online proofing will quickly eliminate extra steps and email chaos. It is about getting everyone to work together. The result is an accelerated, collaborative progress even for complex, visually-rich campaigns.

What is Online Proofing?

Online proofing (or softproofing) software securely digitalizes the review and approval processes for print and digital content, and shares and organizes the daily collaboration of comments in a central location. It makes it easier for management—typically the marketing department—to collaborate and assemble comments in real time from decision makers. Ultimately, online proofing is a tremendous solution to a company’s content communication between a workflow’s partners: content providers, suppliers and clients—any time and anywhere in the world.

Done correctly, the comments and feedback is delivered to a centralized source, where comments and approvals can be monitored, content can be edited, and all actions can be tracked. It makes the process more effective and efficient, because it saves time, involves everyone, and is more accurate. Work can be published quicker.

By introducing an online proofing system, the review and approval processes become much more streamlined and accurate. An good online proofing system will automatically notify those involved in the chain that a document is ready for review. Working from a browser-based system, change requests can be viewed on a collaborative basis, in real time. Comments can even be made directly on the creative document under review. The system will not let the project move forward until everyone has responded and/or signed off. This collected data also assures that compliance with regulatory agencies is accurate, and easy to prepare.

Online vs. traditional printed proofs

While print proofs were actually accurate, the problem was tracking comments that were made about them—and the cost to produce them. Typically, hard copy proofs would be made from an inkjet printer—sometimes color-accurate. They would be passed around through the office, and written comments—hopefully legible—were added.

You needed a system to assure that the right people had a chance to review and/or approve the content. And, while you may assume that these proofs are delivered within an office, what if outside partners need to see them? This requires delivery charges—sometimes back and forth the from the partner’s desk—and extra time to assure the materials are reviewed.

So, the person responsible for the edits would end up trying to make sense from a number of hard-to-read comments.

The advantage of online proofing is that all comments are made on one digital proof. The process is cheaper. None of them are lost, and everything could be tracked.

Who Uses Online Proofing?

Because online proofing is most often used by marketing departments in an organization, everyone upstream from brands and creative agencies, to downstream production departments (print, online, audio or video) benefit from a smoothly running online proofing system. Basically, anyone who would benefit from the input, review and approval of content is a candidate for online proofing. It doesn’t matter how large or small the organizations are. The process become much easier with online proofing.

We have seen virtually all types of companies install online proofing. They include, among many others:

  • Brand owners
  • Photography studios
  • Creative and design agencies
  • Retailers
  • Publishers
  • Printing companies

Of course, the ‘owner’ of the workflow typically shares content with reviewers. Many times the workflow owner will conduct review cycles internally before sending content our for review. A good online proofing system allows for these conditions.

What can I expect in from an online proofing ROI?

Of course, that differs from one company to the next. However, our experience taking with DALIM SOFTWARE customers says that there a  number of ways that companies can financially benefit from online soft proofing:

  • Faster approval cycles: By getting work approved faster, staffs can proceed to the next project sooner. For brand owners, it also offers faster time to market.
  • Fewer errors: If you are a producer of content, like a printer, the last thing you want is to make good on errors. Online proofing, with a structured review process, significantly reduces—or eliminates—errors.
  • Less expensive process: Producing and sending hard copy proofs not only costs money to print proofs. They also expend delivery costs to and from an outside reviewer’s desk.
  • Less creative time: Online proof reviews are more accurate and efficient. Designers usually have a much easier time understanding what edits are required, which also means fewer rounds of edits. This results in less time for AA’s.
  • Easier tracking for compliance: A good online proofing system provides the data needed to track review processes for government compliance records.
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