Ashore is designed for creatives like you, to make your life a little easier. Our mission is to automate the proofing process and streamline client sign off for your proofs. Much like the tango, though, it takes at least two people to complete the proofing process: a creative (you) and an approver (your client).
We know that in order to make the proofing process simpler for you, we also need to make it simpler for your approvers. For them, the proofing process can be filled with a lot of uncertainty and second-guessing of themselves. Sending a proof to them and asking for their open-ended feedback can lead to some comments or suggestions that aren’t entirely relevant, or they can be confused about the process and provide you with insubstantial feedback. Any misunderstandings or confusion during the proofing process will ultimately drag it out.
So, to speed up client sign off and give you the opportunity to give your approvers more clarity, we’ve introduced Checklists. With this feature, Ashore addresses a pivotal point of communication breakdown between creatives and approvers.
How do Checklists Work?
Checklists allow creatives to answer the question: what are the responsibilities of approvers during the proofing process? Checklists can be customized, allowing you to tell your approvers anything you want to remind them of or have them acknowledge prior to approving or not approving a proof and providing feedback.
Checklists give you a unique opportunity to help your approvers move through the process, reminding them how they can evaluate the proof and what they need to look for. This also gives you the change to provide clarity on how revisions will work, what will happen if a proof is not approved and what they should acknowledge when they decide to approve anything. These checklist can include any items you can think of. Once you start thinking about what you wish you could tell your approvers during the proofing process, I bet your list starts to get rather long.
So, what should you include on your client sign off checklist? Below, we’ve compiled five things that any creative agency should make sure to have on their checklist.
Proofreading may seem like a no-brainer. I bet you think your approvers are doing it already, and I bet even your approvers themeslves think they’re doing it already. In reality, though, people are terrible at proofreading. When we read, we tend to skim. We recognize the first and last letters of a word and the letters in-between, but our brains don’t pay much attention to the order of these letters. If I told you that I spelt a word wrong somewhere in this paragraph, it would take you a while to find it without careful, close reading of the text, which is exactly what proofreading is. (By the way, I did misspell a word in this paragraph: themselves. Did you notice?)
Proofreading is a skill, and you shouldn’t take it for granted that your approvers have mastered it. Beyond making sure that they have double-checked that company names, addresses and other company-specific items on a proof are correct, encourage them to thoroughly and slowly read and examine all of the content. Carefully reading word by word will reveal spelling and grammar errors that other approvers – and even yourself – might’ve missed, especially in longer form content such as E-books.
2. Acknowledgement of Color Differences From Monitor to Print
While proofs are usually reviewed and approved on a computer monitor, advertising materials such as brochures, mailers or posters will ultimately be printed out and distributed physically. Differences in color, if not addressed, can result in a very dramatic facepalm moment in the future. Although our technology has steadily improved, there will always be a difference in how a color looks on a screen versus how it looks when it’s printed. There are even color differences between monitors, especially when you consider brightness settings or the age of the monitor being used. As a creative, you’re aware of all of this, and you keep a very close eye on the colors.
Approvers, on the other hand, don’t always understand this universal fact of life. Adding an item to your checklist that asks them to acknowledge prior to giving their approval that colors may be slightly different on the final product will save everyone a lot of headaches. The last thing you want is for your clients to have signed off on a design and then be blindsided by the colors. By including this item on your list, you are letting them know that you are aware of the potential issue, and you’re making them aware of it, as well.
3. Your Policy Regarding Revisions
Hopefully, your approvers have already seen your policy regarding revisions for the project in your proposal. Still, before they click approve without thoroughly reviewing a proof, it doesn’t hurt to remind them how many revision cycles they have up their sleeve or how much additional revisions are going to run. Every creative firm will have their own policy regarding revisions, and it’s up to you what exactly you want to remind your approvers of, but it’s to your benefit to encourage them to not draw out the revision cycles. Fewer revisions means fewer versions and fewer versions means faster client sign off.
When you ask your approvers to acknowledge your revisions policy, you should also encourage them to thoroughly review a proof and give all necessary feedback. If they’ve already gone through one or more cycles of revision, this item on your checklist will also serve as a reminder of how many revisions they still have. Perhaps, they will want to ensure they’ve documented all the changes and fixes they want. This is great for you, preventing the process from dragging out and giving you a lot of actionable feedback all at once rather than piecemeal. It also helps preserve the relationship between you and your approvers by keeping everyone on the same page. Clients would not be happy to discover extra charges, even if they technically agreed to them.
4. Graphic Design Elements
Graphic design elements can include a lot of things depending on the kind of proof your sending out to approvers, so on your checklist, get specific about the items you want your approvers to review and give feedback on if necessary. Some examples of items you may ask your approvers to specifically consider are:
Font: i.e., typeface. Most companies have a specific typeface they use in their branding and official marketing materials. Approvers should double check that the appropriate typeface is being used in the proof as well as the appropriate font. Typefaces usually have different fonts (bold, italic, roman, extended, etc.), so they should approve that, too.
Images: The approvers likely provided the images you are using for the project or they have separately approved them. Still, now that they have seen them in context, they should give their final approval, make sure the correct images are being used in the correct places, double-check image resolution and let you know if any images need to be cropped or resized.
Branding & Identity: If you deal with logos and other types of branding in your proofs, remind your approvers to look at logo placement and size. This is their opportunity to let you know if they wanted their branding to be communicated more overtly or more subtly. They should also consider how their identity is reflected in the asset you’ve produced. Does it align with their business?
Missing Information: Ask your approvers to double-check that the design does not leave out any information they think should be conveyed. Images, graphs, B-roll for videos, etc. This is there time to let you know, before it’s too late to include additional elements.
Format is important regardless of the kind of project you’re working on, whether it be a video, a script, a brochure or a pitch deck. It deals with how a proof is laid out in terms of appearance. This can deal with things such as margins, page separations, place of text, headers and footers and so on. Questions that you can include on your checklist related to the format could be: is everything where is should be? Are you comfortable with the length? Or, are there any parts that should be eliminated or consolidated?
Automate Client Sign Off With Ashore
Ashore automates the approval process and streamlines approver feedback. Our simple workflow automation system handles the distribution of your proofs, reminding approvers at a pre-set frequency to give review and feedback and notifies you of the progress. To help the process run even faster, we’ve added a number of helpful features including modify sender abilities, email templates and checklists. You can add as many items as you need to on your Ashore Checklist to help your approvers understand the proofing process and acknowledge important information.
To learn how Ashore can help you get client sign off faster with less time and effort, sign up for a free account with us today!