Online proofing is a process of sharing assets and streamlining the feedback and approval processes to move content smoothly through all production stages.
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Are you wondering how to improve your organization’s content feedback and approval processes? Looking to learn more about online proofing, and what tools could help you implement the process?
FACT: Content production only seems so simple. However, at close inspection, you quickly realize that with so many team members involved, assets to create and evaluate, and project specifications, the process looks nothing short of a tangled mess.
What’s more, it seems like there’s no escape from it, doesn’t it?
The content needs to get done, after all. So, we accept the lengthy review and approval processes, complex project management and try to complete each project on time.
The good news? There is a different way to do it – by implementing online proofing processes – and in this guide, you’ll learn all about how to do it.
We’ll discuss what online proofing is and why you should implement it. You’ll also see examples of online proofing processes and discover what tools to use.
So, let’s begin.
What is Online Proofing?
The term online proofing relates to a business process for streamlining project delivery and completion.
In short, online proofing focuses on improving how stakeholders share and distribute project-related information and assets, collect feedback, proof and approve it at different stages to move the project forward.
Think of it as a unified system that replaces the typical, and often quite chaotic, proofing and approvals process. With online proofing countless email threads, printing out various project drafts to discuss, and spending time on countless meetings just to decide on the project’s direction become a thing of the past.
Instead of all that, you use dedicated online proofing software to centralize all those activities and make project collaboration so much more efficient and effective.
The result? No more back and forth conversations over email. No more trying to locate the latest versions of files and other assets. No more wasting time trying to get everyone together to push the project forward.
Online Proofing and the Content Supply Chain
Before we go further, it’s worth discussing how online proofing fits into the overall content supply chain.
The supply chain itself is a complete process to plan, create, manage, and deliver digital content to desired channels and audiences. It involves sourcing raw content, working with different stakeholders and suppliers to develop required assets, and routing them to relevant channels.
The content supply chain can be split up into three main stages:
- Creating content. Planning and delivering the perfect content for any point of the customer journey.
- Managing content. Managing content end-to-end and fully utilizing your marketing assets across all digital touchpoints.
- Routing content. Delivering content to relevant channels to fuel your sales and marketing strategies.
Online proofing forms part of the first stage and allows you to convert ideas into finished content assets effectively.
How Online Proofing Works - The Online Proofing Process in Practice
The proofing process involves four stages:
- Proof. In the first stage, an initial file or design idea gets uploaded to a dedicated online proofing platform. The person uploading it would also mark and annotate the file to help other project stakeholders understand what it is and what part of the project the file relates to.
- Notification. At this stage, the proofing platform notifies everyone who needs to review, comment on and approve the file about it. The notification – typically delivered via email, but could also be in Microsoft Teams or similar – would also include a direct link to the file.
- Review & Collaboration. This is when everyone involved in the project review and shares their feedback on the file. Because the entire process takes place in dedicated software, all those comments, suggestions, and feedback reside in a single location alongside the file. This also means that everyone involved can see other people’s feedback and can discuss and share ideas on how to take the project further.
- Sign-off & Approval. Once the feedback has been acted on, relevant stakeholders can approve and sign off the file.
Why implement an online proofing process? Benefits of online proofing
Online proofing helps you centralize reviews, feedback, and approvals of content assets. But that isn’t the only benefit of using the process.
Online proofing speeds up production and project delivery. Because all files reside in a centralized location, and feedback and comments are accessible to everyone involved at any time, work happens much faster.
It reduces the costs of project delivery due to fewer revisions and reiterations of the content.
With online proofing, the team makes fewer mistakes. Many of those come as a result of losing important feedback or information, and that simply doesn’t happen in a proofing platform.
The proofing process increases the effectiveness of the entire team. Everyone can work together, regardless of their other commitments, and location, after all.
Finally, online proofing boosts the job satisfaction of everyone involved. Easier processes reduce bottlenecks and other common reasons for frustration. As a result, work can get done on time, and with greater satisfaction.
Is Online Proofing for You? Who Uses Online Proofing Processes?
Online proofing is a process for streamlining content creation and production. For that reason, it’s not for everyone. However, there are many businesses for whom implementing the process makes sense.
In-House Marketing Departments
For in-house marketers, online proofing offers a way to achieve two objectives:
- Streamline the content approval processes internally, and
- Improve the collaboration on content between internal and external stakeholders.
Most in-house departments would outsource at least some content production. They hire content writers, content agencies, external web designers, and more. Needless to say, they need a system to manage all those assignments, forward feedback and deliver sign-offs effectively.
For agencies, using an online proofing system means a much faster turnaround and delivery. In this case, the process helps an agency manage internal production for multiple clients at a time, reduce the potential chaos in project management, and also streamline their work with clients.
Product and E-Commerce Managers
If there’s one thing that often gets out of hand in e-commerce marketing, it’s getting the right content in the right place.
Given that today’s product experience has moved almost entirely online, e-commerce brands face mounting pressure to deliver product-related content across the entire customer lifecycle.
Online proofing allows product and e-commerce managers to ensure that all content is in one place, easy to find and use on product pages. What’s more, with online proofing systems in place, creative teams and other stakeholders can collaborate on projects seamlessly.
How to Implement Online Proofing - Tools to Use
We are offering a dedicated online proofing solution.
We built it to help in-house marketing teams, agencies, and product managers accelerate content approvals and make content reviews easier.
For that reason, CELUM includes all the features you need to manage a complete online proofing process:
- With CELUM, you can provide feedback on anything, even videos. Annotate images, videos, audio, 3D files, and any other common file format.
- CELUM brings everyone involved in a project together, from in-house creative teams to agencies, freelancers, and other stakeholders. What’s more, with CELUM, you can define roles and responsibilities for every stage of the project so that only the people involved can manage that particular aspect of the project.
- Proofing workflows allow you to ensure that no file slips through the cracks.
- Compare versions and see what has changed between different files.
- Finally, with CELUM you can manage all tasks, files, and content production in real-time using a powerful Kanban board.
Pricing: You can start with CELUM Online Proofing immediately! We offer a forever free plan – no strings attached, and no credit card details required. Get started now.
Filestage is another web-based feedback tool. Filestage helps you save time by bringing the entire approval process into a single location. With Filestage, you can comment on files, and track your progress with approvals and sign-offs to hit deadlines every single time.
Pricing: Filestage’s monthly plans start at €12 and plans are based on the number of active projects, review steps, and storage size.
GoVisually is a very similar tool to Filestage. It focuses on file sharing, collaboration, and feedback processes to streamline content production. You can upload various file formats to GoVisually, share those files with your team and other stakeholders, provide feedback, and manage file revisions.
Pricing: Govisually offers two price plans. The Solo gives a single user access to manage 10 active projects for $25 per month. The Team plan costs $60 per month, and includes 5 users and 1000 projects.
Ziflow is another creative collaboration platform focusing on online proofing. Just like the other tools we’ve mentioned, Ziflow helps spark creative discussions around content assets, annotate files, and compare different revisions to drive content production further.
Pricing: Ziflow plans start at $10 per user per month, and differ by functionality that users get access to.
This online proofing software has been designed specifically for the Adobe Creative Cloud, and boasts features to streamline review cycles, team collaboration, and even allow for remote co-editing of the copy.
Pricing: GoProof doesn’t make its pricing public.
Finally, as its name suggests, ReviewStudio is all about feedback, collaboration, and approvals. The tools allows customers to annotate and comment on various file types, track revisions, and provide feedback and approvals.
Pricing: ReviewStudio offers four pricing plans based on the number of users, storage options, and product functionality. Plans start at $19 per month for a single user.
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