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A Checklist for Choosing the Right Online Proofing Solution

by Anthony Welgemoed

15 February 2019

Once you’ve decided it’s time to invest in an online proofing solution for your creative marketing team, you’ll then need to evaluate and compare the different available solutions. To help you through this process, we’ve put together this checklist which you can use to compare different proofing solutions and decide which one is right for you.

During your evaluation, one factor that will become clear is the distinction between “basic” online proofing and enterprise-ready online proofing. Enterprise-ready does not mean it’s a solution just for larger teams, it does, however, signify that a vendor has made investments in areas like scalability, security & compliance, performance & reliability (uptime), enterprise features like SSO & integrations and is ultimately willing to back it up with SLAs.

Content Types
Given the wide range of marketing channels in use today, your online proofing system should support media types across design files, static content, website pages and rich media such as audio and visual files. This allows for multi-channel campaigns to be reviewed simultaneously within the same system, avoiding time-sinking context switching between apps.

Supported? 

Images - JPG, PNGs, BMP, TIFF, AI, PSD etc.

Documents - PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS/XLST, PPT/PPTX, etc.

Live websites, Website snapshots - review in any resolution

Rich Media - HTML5, Animated GIFs

Video & Audio

Proofs accurately represent the original - see our blog post here for how to use the Altona Test Suite for your own testing.

Handles large file uploads & loads quickly for reviewers

Other formats not listed above - ___, ___, ___, ___, ___

   

Comments & Annotations
The ability to provide precise feedback via markups to content is an absolute requirement for an online proofing solution. Comments and replies should be easy to make and markups should be as simple and straightforward as using PowerPoint or Google Sheets.

 

Real-time comment threads

Several markup tools to provide accurate feedback

Select multiple parts of text on a proof and annotate

Attach files to comments

Private (internal) comments that only certain reviewers can view

@mentions to send a notification directly to another reviewer

Label comments and filter by label(s)

Resolve comments and filter by resolution status

Filter comments by page, reviewer, stage, etc.

Recover deleted comments

Responsive design to support mobile review and approval

   

Version Management & Proof Comparison
Version management and comparison is a critical feature set in any enterprise online proofing solution.  Not only does it help verify that requested changes were made and progress is being made, but it's also vital to any compliance sign off required.

 

Create and access prior versions easily

Automatically give reviewers access to all versions

Compare any two versions side by side

Automatically have changes highlighted between versions

Minor versions support for internal review cycles

   

Automated Workflow
To both ensure consistency of review cycles and for large scale online proofing deployments with complex, multi-stage review processes, an automated workflow is essential to making sure the right team members are included in the process, at the right time, with the proper roles.  

 

Create custom workflows based on your review processes

Save and reuse workflow templates

Set deadlines by workflow stage

Lock stages and proofs when decisions have been made

Set deadlines by workflow stage

Able to add reviewers to multiple stages on the same proof

Make a specific reviewer the primary decision maker

Hide proofs from the dashboard until a reviewer’s stage starts

   

Notifications & Reminders
Given the urgency of most creative projects, real-time notifications should be available to update you on project collaboration efforts, statuses, comments and more. Additionally, flexibility should be provided to tailor notification preferences, as well as extend notifications to other applications (see "Integrations").

 

Notify reviewers when a new version is ready for review by email and in the app

Automatically send reminders before, on and after the deadline

Only notify reviewers when their stage starts

Ability to suppress notifications at stage and proof level

Customize email notifications

   

Dashboards & Reporting

 

See all your proofs, statuses and track their progress easily

Easily drill down to track the progress by stage and reviewer

Dynamically filter proofs by any field

Create, save and share custom views

Export your proof data for easy reporting

Folders to organize proofs by projects, clients, etc.

   

Account Management
Enterprise-ready online proofing solutions should offer the consistency of group-level permissions, as well as the flexibility of individual permissions for specific reviewers. This allows clients, partners, and vendors to contribute as named group members or as guests.

 

Sign-up and manage multiple accounts using a single log-in

Branding using logos, favicons, colors

Choose your own subdomain or customize the domain

Manage multiple brands across accounts

Custom properties to capture and filter on extended proof information

   

Integrations
Enterprise-ready online proofing solutions should offer integrations with other cloud-based tools and systems, either via ready-to-run extensions, or via simple programming interfaces, such as public APIs.

 

Publicly available API

Integrates with your existing technology stack

Cloud storage integrations

   

Security & Reliability
When considering the intellectual property in your (and your client's) creative work, security standards should guarantee that all proofs, comments, and associated files are secure and private.  

 

Configure Single Sign-on

Vendor is SOC 2 compliant

Securely share proofs with users and guests

Control sharing settings to only internal and trusted users

Disaster Recovery is part of the vendor’s infrastructure

Qualys SSL Labs Score

 

Additionally, one aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is the team behind the solution itself. If your organization requires solutions which are enterprise-ready in nature, you’d be well suited to evaluate vendors which have demonstrated a sustained rate of innovation specific to online proofing. This is important, as it allows the vendor to continually anticipate evolving workflow challenges and opportunities for review and approval process improvements. Simply put, you want a vendor who has seen complex requirements for online proofing and has been able to address them consistently. This will help to narrow the breadth of solutions available to you.

 

Here's a handy copy of the checklist that you can print out and as part of your evaluation. 
 
Download the Checklist
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Product Update: January 2019

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