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Moving Your Creative Development Process Online

July 17, 2020 | Design

The creative development process is fundamental to creatives; for many, that process is handled in the physical world. With the onset of COVID-19, the transition from physical to virtual spheres has had to hasten – but that isn’t the only reason people are moving online. Using the web for your creative development process will not only help you stay organized but accelerate your feedback and review procedures. So going virtual is a good thing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy.

Stages of the Creative Development Process


In this stage, you are aware there is a problem, but you may not know exactly what that problem is. This stage is all about gathering information, inspiration, and anything else that may intrigue you. If you don’t know what exact problem you are trying to solve, you can do some exploring in the reviews of you and your competition: Is there a common theme? Is there something at which one company seems to be excelling? Is everyone annoyed with the same feature (or lack thereof)?

For creatives, discovery is usually a time when they meet with clients, establish objectives for a project and plan the next steps. Moving the discovery process to the virtual sphere might present a challenge in this department, as you may not be meeting with clients in person. However, with good communication skills and a great communication platform, this problem can be alleviated. 

Creative Brief

Once you have identified the problem and your solution, it’s time to move to the next step in the creative development process, the creative brief. This step is where you get to outline the project – it’s a lot like a blueprint. While creative briefs can vary in terms of what they entail, most will include the following:

  • A summary of the brand and its background
  • Challenges and objectives
    • Description of the project
    • Why it needs to happen
    • The goals you hope to accomplish
  • The key deliverables needed (billboards, Instagram posts, emails, etc.)
  • A style guide (logo usage, colors & fonts)
  • Logistics (timeline, budget, etc.)

The creative brief is the heart of a creative project: it’s crucial to staying organized, articulating your vision, and making sure the objectives are met on time. Like any project, the first creative brief you present may end up with tweaks and edits from the powers that be – so you might have to make a few variations of the brief before it’s accepted. Most of the time, a creative brief is sent via email; but if you expect revisions or discussion when you send it, or if you have to have signoff from multiple people, email isn’t very efficient. Transitioning to a creative approval platform eradicates many of these challenges and cuts out a lot of unnecessary time-waste; you can send the brief as soon as it is ready, and comments can be sent as soon as it is received.  

There is one thing to watch out for in your creative briefs as you move online – jargon. A creative brief stuffed to the brim with industry terms and buzzwords tends to dilute the message. This is pretty easy to catch when you share the brief in person, so we would recommend a few practice-runs before sending it, even if you won’t be presenting in person. 


With the creative brief as your blueprint, you can now start designing. This portion of the creative development process might look a little different depending on what you do. For art directors, this stage is where you design your ads: whether it be mockups of billboards, social media posts or a magazine spread. For a UX designer, the development stage may include wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. For a graphic designer, this may be the time you create your logos, postcards, T-shirt designs, promotional materials, business cards and other products. 

Review, Revision & Approval

The creative development process can be a lot of fun; this stage, however, rarely is. Why, you may ask? People. People are the worst. Especially inefficient people. Moving the review, revision and approval process to the virtual sphere is probably the best counter-attack to inefficient people (who are the worst, as I’ve mentioned). There are a few options out there, but Ashore is the paragon of online proofing software for creatives. All you have to do is send out your material to the appropriate people, and they can review and make comments or suggestions directly on the proof. Plus, everyone can do so at once. Wasted time is wasted money; I couldn’t recommend virtual proofing more. 

For product designers, often you need to create a physical prototype. While this does present a challenge, it is not one that can’t be solved. If you have a physical prototype that needs to be approved virtually, it will save a lot of time and headache to give people as much information about that prototype as possible from the get-go. Here are a few elements you might want to include in your digital proof:

  • General information: dimensions, materials used, colors
  • Photos: provide photos of the prototype from all angles and next to an object or ruler (to give an idea of what the dimensions actually look like)
  • Videos: a 360 view of the prototype, the prototype in action, etc.

Production & Launch

The production phase is where you actually launch your final project, whether it be a website, ad campaign, mobile app, or consumer product. Depending on your project’s specific timeline, you may have a testing phase after development is complete. Here, you can get feedback from users on what they like and what they would change about the product. You can also gather marketing and sales information based on the initial product: Is the price point right? Are the people interested in the product the people you thought? Does it have another use you didn’t consider?

Once you have a finalized product (whatever that may be) and a solid marketing and sales plan, it’s time to start making money. This stage will look very different depending on what the project is: “launch” can mean beginning to sell your product, officially launching your site/app, posting your social media campaign, etc..

Using Ashore in your Creative Development Process

While the nature of the creative development process is easy to wrap your mind around, in practice, it tends to get messy. With so much of the business world taking place online, things can get even more muddled when your review and approval process are still happening in the physical realm or even over email. That’s where Ashore comes in. Our online proofing software for creatives can help streamline the process so you can focus on what matters most, creating beautiful things. If you’re feeling hesitant about taking the plunge into online proofing, fear not! Sign up for your free Ashore account today, we’re confident you’ll love it. 

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