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Choosing the best proof approval software for your creative process: 6 best options

15 min read
Aaron Marquis

What is the greatest gift you can give your creative team (besides a happy hour with an open tab)? Time

Great creative content matters. It has an outsize impact. It helps businesses stand out from the crowd. There is an explosion of demand for great creative content. As a result, creative teams face unprecedented challenges to deliver more content for more channels, in less time. You need to manage the flow of content quickly and efficiently. But, you need to balance speed with control — control over regulatory compliance, brand identity and reputation.

One of the biggest challenges for creative teams is managing review and approval in the creative process. Too often, fantastic creative gets rushed, and creative teams burn unnecessary midnight oil because the review and approval process is broken. The reason is simple: too many creative teams use a patchwork of email, Slack, or Teams messages, PDF comments, shared folders, and even hard copy printouts (yes, really!) to manage what is a complex and critical part of the creative process.

We’re here to end all that and set you on the right track.

Proof approval software offers a much-needed solution streamlining the review and approval process. In this guide, we'll explore the importance of proof approval software for creative teams and provide advice on selecting the best option for your team.

What we'll cover

What is proof approval software?

Proof approval software is specifically designed to manage the review and approval of creative assets. It is a centralized platform for every comment, discussion, and decision of every version of every asset in every campaign — a lot, we know! Now, think again about all of that being managed by email!

However, proof approval software does more than centralize the process. It also enhances collaboration, creativity, and decision-making. Plus, it orchestrates the entire workflow for review and approval, improving efficiency and productivity.

What's not to like?

What are the benefits of proof approval software?

We liken it to a Sherpa doing the heavy lifting as your creative team ascends to the heights of their creative Everest. Proof approval software is pivotal in the creative process, providing a structured environment that streamlines creativity and collaboration. Here's how it benefits creative teams:

Faster project delivery and greater productivity

Proof approval software delivers a noticeable acceleration in project delivery times. We’re talking double-digit percentages here. By making feedback easier, facilitating collaboration, automating repetitive tasks, and tracking changes between versions, proof approval software helps your creative team complete projects faster. It improves your efficiency, ultimately boosting your productivity (and profitability).

Enhanced collaboration and creativity

At its heart, creativity is a collaborative endeavor. Proof approval software provides a great collaborative environment for feedback, collaborative discussion, and clear, creative decision-making. It provides the framework for constructive feedback to ensure that projects are aligned with the stakeholders' vision and something that you are happy to put your name on.

Speed with control

Creative teams are in the middle of a tug-of-war between speed and control. They need to deliver more creative content in shorter time frames for their brand to stay relevant. However, they must also mitigate the risk of damaging their brand’s reputation by producing poor quality, inappropriate, or non-compliant content - in other words, marketing compliance. Proof approval software takes the strain by providing clearly defined workflows to support quality control and compliance processes. It also provides a system record for compliance records and audits.

House office full of sticky notes on the wall

Tracking and visibility

Proof approval tools offer improved tracking by providing a clear view of the review and approval status of each reviewer on each asset in each campaign. Everyone involved in the project can see the status, improving visibility and accountability and removing bottlenecks. No more of this “what are you working on” business.

Improved client communication and trust

A solid client relationship is built on one thing: trust. Nothing breaks down trust faster than poor communication between a creative team and clients. Proof approval software enhances communication, improves clarity, and builds trust. Clients appreciate increased transparency and accountability, and you know that satisfaction leads to long-term partnerships and referrals.

How to select the best proof approval software for your team

We think there are a few things you should consider when you’re selecting proof approval software for your team, like:

Assess your team’s needs

What are your team's specific challenges and requirements in proofing processes? How big is your team? What is their structure? How do they work? Where are they located?

What type of work do you do?

What type of work do they do? For example, if your team mostly works with video files, you'll need software that has robust video proofing capabilities. Are you dealing with JPEGs, large MP4s, or maybe playful GIFs for banner ads? And don’t forget about the scale of your creative projects. If you’re in the business of crafting websites, for example, you’ll be looking at a tool that juggles WEBM videos and SVG graphics.

Recording studio with employees and interview ongoing

What’s the scale of your work?

You should also consider the scale of your projects; if you handle large-scale projects with multiple stakeholders, you'll need software that can accommodate complex workflows and large file sizes.

What are your workflows?

Sketch out your workflow. You need to understand how your projects flow from inception to final nod. Ask your team to help out, and tell them to be honest: Where do things get sticky? Where does everyone come together? Identifying the steps in your unique workflow helps you find the right online proofing software.

Do you need to manage compliance?

Know your compliance. Compliance is not just about ticking boxes, it’s about weaving through the regulatory and brand obstacles that dot your industry. Whether it’s healthcare or finance, make sure your software choice can navigate these industries.

What do your clients' or stakeholders' needs?

Listen to client needs — Understanding your clients’ review and approval choreography can guide you to a proofing software solution that resonates with your team and creates a frictionless experience for the clients. Because at the end of the day, if you choose online proofing software that your clients hate using, what’s the point?

Top features to look for in proof approval software for creative teams

Consider user experience

Nobody wants to use a clunky app. Choose software with an intuitive and user-friendly interface that is enjoyable to use. Clear navigation makes the user journey painless. The ease of learning for both internal team members and external clients is also important. Consider factors such as responsiveness, ease of access, and overall satisfaction with the platform.

Ziflow enterprise online proofing and reviewing software as a service interface

Evaluate collaboration features

Delivering exceptional creative content is a team sport, and your creative team needs software that offers robust collaborative tools such as commenting, markup, and annotation capabilities. Features like threaded comments and mention notifications are a must. Real-time feedback that allows stakeholders to provide instant input during the review process is also a game-changer for creatives. Software should support seamless team communication, whether through integrated messaging systems or integration with popular communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Review version control capabilities

For your creative team’s sanity, you have to choose software that offers robust version control to prevent confusion and errors. Look for features that automatically update shared proofs to the latest version whenever changes are made. Verifying that the software maintains a comprehensive version history, allowing users to track changes, revert to previous versions if needed, and ensure accountability for revisions is essential. The software should also differentiate between internal and external versions to maintain privacy and confidentiality, especially when sharing proofs with clients or external stakeholders.

Routing and workflow

Different stages of the creative process require different eyes. Your creative team needs the peace of mind that content approvals follow the correct sequence and involve the right stakeholders at the right time, particularly for compliance. For example, in a marketing campaign, the compliance team might need to review content before it's sent to clients.

Clear approval features 

Decision-making tools such as electronic signatures and checkboxes keep the documentation of approvals airtight. For example, your creative team might have a creative director who needs to electronically sign off on the final deliverable before it's sent to the client.

Online reviewing software proof decisions list approved

Detailed activity logging for compliance purposes

Detailed activity logs provide a record of all proof-related actions, essential for compliance requirements. For example, in a pharmaceutical advertising campaign, detailed activity logs ensure that every change made to the content is documented for regulatory purposes.


Automation streamlines the approval process by sending approved files to the next stage of production and distribution automatically. For instance, once a piece of creative is approved, it can be automatically forwarded to the appropriate stakeholder. Automation cuts out the manual hassles that slow down output.

Look for integrations

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water when you choose proof approval software — it should integrate effortlessly with your existing tech stack. For example, if your team uses a project management tool like Monday or Asana, look for proofing software that offers direct integrations with this platform. Considering integration with a creative software application such as Adobe Creative Cloud is also beneficial. Looking for API support that enables custom integrations with proprietary tools or workflows unique to your organization is recommended.

Keyboard with security text button instead of an enter

Security and compliance

Prioritizing software that adheres to industry-standard security protocols and compliance requirements, such as GDPR or HIPAA regulations, is important for creative teams working with hospitals and similar clients. Features like data encryption, access controls, and audit trails ensure data security and regulatory compliance. Verifying that the software offers robust user authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication or single sign-on (SSO), to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information should be top of mind.

How to evaluate proof approval software

Evaluating proof approval software may seem overwhelming once you start looking at the market, but we’ve outlined a methodical approach to ease the stress of finding the right one for you. Here are a few things to consider:

Understand the market

At first glance, there are a plethora of options to choose from. However, closer analysis shows many clear differences between the types of proof approval solutions available.

One way to think about the market is to examine proofing specialization on one axis and enterprise readiness on the other.

Online proofing specialization considers how focused the product is on supporting the creative review and approval process. Is the solution provider focused primarily on review and approval? Or is their proofing a minor feature bolted onto a different product focused on solving a different business process? For example, project management tools can include very basic online proofing, but they cannot support the type of proofing a creative operations team needs. 

Enterprise readiness refers to the capability of the product to support large enterprises. This includes examining whether the online proofing features can support more complex project structures and workflows. Whether compliance requirements can be supported. Whether the account architecture can support large distributed organizations with sophisticated account set-up and permissions, and finally, whether the solution has the security and scalability that large enterprises mandate.

Take a trial and demo

Before you go head first into an online proofing platform, you should try it out. Free trials and demos are your best friends here. They let you get hands-on, checking if the platform matches how your creative team operates. Try uploading some work, getting the team to chime in, and running through the kinds of tasks you do daily. 

Search for reviews and testimonials

Nothing beats hearing from the people who've walked the walk with the platform you're eyeing. Dig into user reviews and stories to get the unvarnished take on how it's played out in the real world, especially from businesses that look a bit like yours. Note the praise about the things that matter, but also, don't ignore the complaints—they might be the very things that bug you, too.

Consider the costs

No one wants to, but we have to talk about cost. It's all about finding that sweet spot where the price tag doesn't make your budget weep but still checks all your boxes for your creative team. Some platforms have a menu of plans, while others might have a one-size-fits-all setup. And remember to factor in the indirect extras like training your team or any custom tweaks you might need. It's about weighing what you'll spend against what you're getting to make sure it's worth it.

And beware of false claims about pricing. Some providers claim they are the only vendor without hidden costs, but this is wrong. In our experience, most vendors are very honest and transparent about costs. To claim otherwise is dishonest. Conversely, some claim they offer "Unlimited" features, but if you try creating tens of thousands of users or proofs, they do not allow that.

6 proof approval software to elevate your creative processes


London skyscrapers landscape used as a proof in Ziflow

Stepping up as the front-runner in proof approval, Ziflow sets the bar high, boasting an impressive pedigree and a knack for innovation that's hard to beat. At the helm are the co-founders, who've been shaping the online proofing world from the word go, bringing a wealth of experience and insight to the table. Ziflow has a relentless innovation pace, and seamlessly blends simplicity with robust functionality to deliver a platform that's both powerful and user-friendly. It's this unique combination of ease, flexibility, and sheer horsepower that makes Ziflow stand out from the crowd.


  • The interface for creators, by creators—intuitive yet packed with features.
  • Workflow and security are top-tier, offering peace of mind alongside efficiency.
  • It's fast and scales up with your needs, no matter how big you grow.
  • Service is in a league of its own, ensuring you're supported at every step.


  • With great power comes a bit of complexity. New users might find the platform's depth a tad overwhelming at first glance, but it's worth the dive.

Filestage user interface with main dashboard and content list

Based out of Germany since 2014 and boasting a team of around 50, Filestage is about sharing content, managing workflows, and streamlining feedback, approvals, and versioning.


  • Praise for its user interface and simplicity in setup.
  • Kudos for customer service.


  • Similar to Pageproof, it's not quite cut out for enterprise needs due to customization, archiving and security limitations.
  • Some users report glitchy notifications and a stiff workflow (ie, no automation).

Goproof content review main dashboard

Based in the UK, GoProof is the brainchild of Oppolis Software, a small team of 9 professionals dedicated to simplifying the online proofing process. With its small feature set, his platform works for small businesses or projects needing straightforward proofing tools.


  • Intuitive setup, making it easy for new users (though, keep an eye on the cons).
  • A snug fit for compact projects.
  • Quick integration with Adobe Creative Cloud ensures a smoother workflow for designers.
  • Support team gets thumbs up for being helpful.


  • The user experience could use some polish, feeling a bit cumbersome at times.
  • Proofs might not dazzle you with their image quality.
  • If you handle email and web page proofs, prepare for some hurdles.
  • Larger projects might feel like fitting a square peg in a round hole due to its basic organizational tools.
  • Mixed feedback on the speed of support and pace of new features.

PageProof comments and creative proof review dashboard view

Pageproof kicked off in 2014 and is based in Auckland, New Zealand. This team of 26 has developed a web app that's all about making your proofing life easier. With a setup that splits between a proofing screen for all your review and markup needs and a workflow side for getting those proofs ready to go, they keep things straightforward.


  • Users seem to get PageProof's easy-to-get-into user experience.
  • When it comes to needing a hand or a quick fix, PageProof's customer service gets good shout outs for being on the ball.


  • For you big, enterprise-level players, PageProof might leave you wanting more. If you need basics like custom dashboards, archiving, detailed security settings, and a robust workflow with automation, move along.
  • Those looking for support in North America might find it a bit quiet on this front.
  • And about those "no hidden costs" claims… take it with a grain of salt. Plus, while they boast about a fancy "patented triple-layer encryption," it's a bit of a head-scratcher without the heavy-hitting certifications like SOC 2 Type II and ISO 27001 that many of us look for. They're riding on Microsoft cloud's coattails for that sense of security.


GoVisually online proofing user interface with creative text proof

Based in Sydney, Australia, GoVisually is a compact team of 10, launched in 2011 to cater to the online proofing needs of individual creators and small teams. It's praised for its no-fuss interface and customer support, though it keeps things pretty basic on the feature front.


  • The interface is clean and straightforward, inviting even for those not tech-savvy.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud integration is on point, making it a favorite among designers.
  • Customer support is often spotlighted for its excellence.


  • The feature set is on the lean side, which might actually be a plus if you're after simplicity.
  • Larger teams or projects might find it lacking in robustness.
  • If you're juggling multiple types of assets in a campaign, you might find issues.
  • Side-by-side comparison tools don’t quite match up to other platforms.
  • Heads up for potentially slow load times with hefty files, and brace yourself for an inbox full of notifications.


ReviewStudio creative online proofing software dashboard

Montreal, Canada is homebase for ReviewStudio, with a remote team of 10 spread out from Lisbon to the UK. Its goal is to make online proofing straightforward, with decent features for commenting, managing tasks, comparing versions, and a dab of automated workflow. It’s mostly geared toward small and mid-sized businesses.


  • A smooth user experience backed by solid customer support.


  • Might not be the best fit for the big leagues in terms of project size or workflow complexity
  • Some people have noted it can be a bit slow.


The right approval software can radically transform your creative team and help them reach the next level of creative output and quality. We hope this guide helps you make a more informed decision when choosing a platform, and that we nudged you toward Ziflow. We really do think Ziflow stands out as the superior choice for creative teams looking to elevate their workflows.

Ready to help your creative team? Start your free trial of Ziflow today and experience the difference firsthand.

Try the best proof approval platform free

See why Ziflow is the best proof approval platform for all your creative assets.

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