Creatives get a bad rap as businesspeople; we’re often seen as daydreamers, unfamiliar with the concept of deadlines, and adamantly opposed to following rules. While some elements of this are correct (after all, artists are known to break the rules now and again), creative professionals are still, believe it or not, professionals. As such, we stand to benefit from standardizing our process. Most of the issues creatives and their clients encounter aren’t about the work at all; missed deadlines, endless review cycles, miscommunications and general disorder are all symptoms of a faulty creative content management workflow.
To a designer, “standardize your process” might sound a bit like “sell your soul,” but having a workflow doesn’t squelch creativity; it enables it. When we can shift our focus from tracking down approvers and coaxing feedback out of them, we have a lot more time and energy to put into the creative itself.
Troubleshooting Content Management Workflows
Despite the overwhelming benefits of a content management workflow, many designers still hesitate to implement one, and for valid reasons. If you ask a creative, they’ll tell you all the problems they have with the workflow they’re constrained by: it doesn’t allow for an iterative approach, it doesn’t manage revisions or versions well, and it doesn’t include stakeholders throughout the process.
If you’re using an outdated workflow, these issues are probably a regular occurrence. Luckily, that’s easy to solve; with the addition of proofing software, you can create a modern content management workflow flexible enough to meet both your business and artistic needs.
Problem: It Doesn’t Allow For An Iterative Approach
The creative process is inherently iterative; ideas build off each other, one design may inspire another, and it’s not uncommon for a project to go in a completely different direction than originally planned. This isn’t a new idea for creatives, it’s the same concept that fills our sketchbooks with a hundred variations of the same design.
The first idea is rarely the best, and even if it is, you’ll still want to polish it. Workflows that don’t allow for an iterative approach bar you from improving upon your work. Worse? If you only share the final product with the client, they may reject it based on an issue that could’ve been solved much earlier in the game. Feedback from clients is meant to be constructive, but it isn’t all that helpful if it’s too late to implement.
Solution: Find Software That Facilitates Feedback
To take an iterative approach in your content management workflow, you need proofing software that does, at a minimum, two things. The first is pretty straightforward: it has to allow for multiple iterations. The second feature required for an iterative workflow is a way to send and receive feedback.
On Ashore, you don’t have to worry about making your process iterative; it’s built-in. Approvers can give written feedback through threaded comments, visual feedback with markup tools, and even place their revisions in context directly on the proof. While these added features aren’t entirely necessary for an iterative workflow, they paint a much clearer picture of what the reviewer is attempting to communicate. By improving collaboration, designers can uncover what the client really wants sooner.
Problem: It Doesn’t Manage Revisions Or Versions Well
Revisions are an essential piece of the creative process, but without a system to manage them, they can suck the joy out of every project you embark on. Client feedback isn’t the problem – it’s how you determine what the client really wants. No, the issue is how we manage it. Without clear boundaries around revisions, the artist is entirely at the will of the client. If they want you to make a complete 180 three months in, your options are to do what they say or quit – not a great situation to be in as a designer. And if you don’t go into a project with predetermined deadlines and milestones, the revision cycle may never end (or at least it might feel that way).
With revisions come versions; regardless of your workflow, you’ll likely have multiple variations of your content by the end of the review cycle. This isn’t an issue in and of itself, but it is when you don’t have a system in place to keep them organized. It’s not uncommon for a client to decide they want to go back to an older version of the artwork; if your files are scattered across your desktop, finding the right document could be nearly impossible.
Solution: Look For Software With Organized Version Stacking
A strong content management workflow is an organized one; there’s no point in streamlining your process if you can’t find the files you need. On Ashore, organization starts with the proofing dashboard. Here, you can see all of your account activity, which files need to be sent, and the status of each proof. To further organize your workflow, Ahore offers dynamic tagging, so you can keep documents organized by category, project or any other method you choose.
Our platform also offers version stacking, which lets reviewers move seamlessly through variations so they can view past iterations and feedback. We even have a new feature that limits version visibility for approvers to the proofs sent to their workflow stage. To keep the project on schedule, we provide automatic reminders and notifications. Once you set up your workflow, the burden of remembering essential deadlines and milestones is no longer on you.
After you’ve found a workflow that works for you, you may want to take note of what made that workflow so effective. On Ashore, all you have to do is check the audit timeline. This comprehensive overview will show a full record of feedback, versions, reminders and acknowledgments, so you can better track your creative workflow.
Problem: It Doesn’t Include Stakeholders Throughout The Process
It may seem advantageous to keep stakeholders out of the creative process on the surface, but that could come back to bite you down the line. To start, the work you’re making is likely very important to the client. Keeping stakeholders in the loop can assuage their fears around the project. It can also pave the way for stronger client relationships; when clients can see the process for themselves, they will be more inclined to trust you and the quality of your work.
Excluding stakeholders from the process presents another challenge as well: unless you can read minds, you have no way to gauge whether they like an idea until the end. That’s bad news for a designer; there’s nothing quite as disheartening as sinking time and effort into work that was destined for rejection from the start.
Solution: Choose Software With Flexibility Around Adding Approvers
Most creative projects have multiple stakeholders looking to weigh in on the work, so you’ll want to find software that helps keep track of their feedback. On Ashore, you can add as many reviewers as you need to a stage. To further customize the process, you can even add non-approvers and assign a sender. Moreover, you can create automatic messages and reminders to inform stakeholders of a project’s status, even if those stakeholders aren’t part of the review process.
Create A Modern Content Management Workflow With Ashore
The right workflow can make or break a creative project. With multiple iterations, important deadlines and various stakeholders involved, you’ll need a content management workflow that can handle the review process from start to finish. Ashore streamlines the proofing process so that creatives and their clients can get the results they’re striving for without the hassle. Ready to build a modern content management workflow you’ll actually enjoy using? Sign up for your 14-day free trial of Ashore now!