Virtual proofs are a necessity for many printers. Simply proofing an engraving plate or flat label design doesn’t really tell your clients what the actual product will look like, after all. Having the product mockup – the virtually delivered soft proof – is essential to getting the project done well. It really helps your clients understand all of the factors: imprint rules, colors, location, image quality, etc, and saves you the hassle of placing the finished product in the client’s hand only for them to dislike where the label is on their water bottle.
Soft proofs are only one step in the process, however. Your clients also have to approve the proof for you to even think of putting it into production. The approval process can take longer than the design process, dragged out with emails and misunderstandings. A proof software can bring much needed clarity to your proofing process and help you get approvals faster in order to keep the project moving.
What should you look for in a proof software? Below, we talk about four different features to look for, through the lens of our own software, Ashore.
When it comes to digitally creating a proof, you may have an internal or external workflow for the approval process. With an internal workflow, you have different people doing quality control before the proof gets to the client. Or, perhaps the client has a group they’d like to send the proof to.
Either way, a flexible proof software includes automated workflows as a feature. Rather than having to figure out what the status of a proof is and then shuffle it along to the next approver in line, automated workflows will send the file along as each approver approves. Saves you a lot of time and effort. Proof not approved? You’ll get a notification for that, too, to let you know that work needs to be done.
The proofing process often takes longer than the actual design process. Everyone has an opinion to share and you, the designer, have to interpret that opinion into actionable changes. This process is nearly impossible in an email proofing process. A digital proof software, like Ashore, gives you the proofing tools needed to get the feedback you can act on.
Approvers can mark directly on a proof, eliminating much of the confusion from the proofing process. Commenting and drawing boxes or arrows directly on the images of the proof lets you know exactly what your approver meant by “move this”. Taking the interpretation out of the approval process saves you a lot of time.
Getting a decision is the end goal of the proofing process. Despite their desire for the product, clients don’t always remember to actually make the decision, however. Other things pop up and push the approval to the background of their minds. Automated reminders are one of the best features for a virtual proof software to have. Sending daily, weekly or every other day reminders keeps your proof fresh in the approvers’ minds and really helps get those decisions made. It’s hard to ignore something at the top of your inbox every morning, after all!
One of the other benefits of automated reminders is that, while they keep the proof in their minds, your approvers won’t feel pressured by you personally. Keeps the relationship going smoothly!
The life of a proof, whether long or short, has a lot going on. There are comments, decisions, versions, emails – all of that adds up. A proof dashboard that helps you track the timeline of a proof can be an invaluable tool to gather information overall about your work process, as well has serve as a record of the interactions. Ashore offers a Proof Timeline, with each action taken time-stamped on the page. We also include images of the emails and messages you sent out, in case you forgot what was said.
Our Proof Timeline also offers other information as well, such as the deadline, anyone BCC’d on the proof and permissions to toggle on and off. You can allow approvers to download the file, approve with changes or view all comments with a click of a button, at any time.
Ashore is Approver-Friendly
You put a lot of work into your designs and into the production. Having a friendly software that works for both you and your approvers is paramount for the amount of time it saves and improves your process. With automated reminders and no login required, your approvers remember to approve and have no friction between them and that “Approved” button.
There won’t be any more searching through emails for comments or updates, either, because everything is right there on the Proof Timeline, and all of your proofs are located in Ashore’s Proof Archive for easy viewing.
There’s no time like the present to improve your approval process. Check out Ashore for your friendly proof software today.