The right design feedback tool can do wonders for employees’ time management, reduce the likelihood of stalled projects, improve communication with approvers, and ultimately shore up your bottom line.
But just what is a design feedback tool and how does it accomplish such an array of things?
A design feedback tool is a system that assists you in the feedback and approval process for proofs. Proofs, in this instance, are anything that needs to go through an approval process, such as your videos, images, documents and designs. These types of tools come in so many different configurations that finding the right one to truly optimize your business operations can become tricky.
What should you be looking for in a design feedback tool? For the purposes of streamlining an answer that will vary a little for each business, let’s focus on these five attributes:
- Supports a variety of file types
- Allows contextual annotations
- Built with ease of use – for everyone – in mind
- Puts your branding first
- Introduces automation to the process
In this blog, we’ll discuss each of these attributes in detail. To provide context, I’ll use a real-world software you may have heard of (since you’re reading this blog), called Ashore.
Support for Every Type of Digital Proof
No matter if you’re a print shop, a creative agency, a design team or a freelancer, you likely work with many different file types routinely. An effective design feedback tool should be able to manage all of them. A software that has a mastery of a wide variety of file types will give users more versatility while sharing designs, ideas and feedback.
This quality is especially important for businesses that work in a lot of different formats and create a lot of different projects. Ashore — as a software conceived of and designed by creatives — understands a truly successful platform embodies flexibility. Ashore works well for proofing images, documents, videos, web pages, and even HTML files. In particular, here are some unique features:
- Ashore manages the comments and replies for every file type, and approvers have the ability to jump to a specific comments anywhere on a file.
- Comments are color-coded by approvers and consolidated in a single review screen for creatives.
- You can allow approvers to download proofs at any point, or you can remove that privilege.
- Approvers can edit document files in Ashore, or you can remove that privilege.
Provide Content to Feedback
The true value of a design feedback tool is in the ease of communication. Miscommunication and gaps in communication significantly slow down and stall projects; the objective of any proofing software should be to eliminate these barriers to allow for quick and easy approvals.
The ability to contextualize feedback significantly mitigates the risk of miscommunication. When choosing the right tool for your business, consider how the annotation tools lead to better understanding of approver feedback. In Ashore, approvers can make comments directly on proofs exactly where they see an issue or would like a change. This goes for any type of file being proofed – images, documents, PDFs, videos, and even web pages.
In Ashore, there are several annotation tools approvers can use to better delineate and explain their feedback. Rectangles can be used to outline the area of the design that requires attention and arrows can be used to indicate a specific point or a directional movement. Each markup can also be accompanied by a comment. These comments can be replied to by other approvers and users, keeping the conversation and feedback out of everyone’s inboxes.
Make it Easy to Use for Anyone
The design feedback tool your company uses needs to work for your business as well as the approvers – no matter their experience level. A software can come with all the bells and whistles you’re looking for, but unless it’s usable for your approvers, it’s essentially worthless. Approvers, as you’ve likely seen over the years, have varying degrees of comfort with technology, and you have to cater to the lowest common denominator to make your platform accessible.
When you’re testing out different proofing software options, first consider how your team will adapt to the platform, and then consider how your approvers will experience it. Unlike your team, the approver’s onboarding process happens when they receive a proof, so the system needs to be as simple, fast, and as intuitive as possible.
There are a few guidelines you can follow to determine if a software will be good for your approvers:
- Consider how many clicks it takes to complete the proofing process. This will indicate it’s navigability and workflow.
- Consider how long it takes you to find the item you’re searching for on a page. The design should have predictability and consistent structure built in to aid approvers.
- Consider how clean and organized the interface is for approvers. A minimal, uncluttered appearance is easiest to navigate and understand.
Ashore considers the look and feel of the software thoroughly, and users and approvers have taken notice of it’s streamlined and intuitive usability. Their praise speaks for itself. Here are actual quotes from two Ashore users:
“This website is so pretty, the navigation is easy. And the proofing is easy.”
“This would have really helped with our last video project – it’s so easy to use! We’ll be using this in the future.”
Improve the Presentation of Your Organization
White-labeling may not initially be on your mind when looking around for a design feedback tool, but it has some noteworthy benefits for your business. Having the ability to customize the look of the platform and insert your own logo in key places gives the impression that the proofing tool is proprietary. Proprietary software makes your company look more professional, more successful, and larger to approvers.
Keeping these benefits in mind, be sure that the proofing tool you choose is white-labeled and puts your branding first. Ashore not only gives you the ability to upload your logo for your approvers to see, but it also includes the option to customize your email signature. With this feature, emails sent from Ashore can appear as those they were sent from your company and include your information and identity. Ashore is committed to building a software that will help our users first and foremost.
Automation is Good for You, Trust Me
In a process with so much back-and-forth communication, any bit of automation can improve your proofing experience. A design feedback tool should automate at least some of the processes, or it won’t truly be enhancing the experience overall.
Introducing automation will help you conquer your productivity troubles, freeing up more of your time, increasing the number of projects you complete, improving response rates between you and your approvers, and helping you honor your deadlines.
Ashore understands the pressure of the approval process, and it works to take over some of the responsibilities for you. The software will take care of the biggest headache-inducing activity: follow-up emails. When you set up your workflow for a proof, you have the option to automatically send reminders to each approver as frequently as you think they’ll need it. Once they review the proof, they’ll no longer get them. It’s an excellent system to keep approvers on the ball, and requires little effort on your part.
Ashore will also automatically notify you of approver feedback and the approval status of proofs: approved, not approved, or approved with changes. That way, you’ll know how far down the pipeline the proof has gotten without having to look after approvers.
Meeting Your Needs
No matter how the proofing process looks for your business, Ashore easily meets and surpasses the qualifications of a design feedback tool. If you’re if this powerful proofing tool is right for you, sign up for free today and “sea” Ashore for yourself.