creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration

Creative proofing is an important step in the life cycle of any creative work. It involves multiple stakeholders coming together to review and approve any creative work before it goes live. This ensures that the design is error-free, meets the requirements of the clients, and also is what the public or target audience would want to see.

Examples of creative works include logos, illustrations, books, magazines, packaging, marketing and advertisement materials, interfaces, and interactions for websites and apps, among others. And some aspects of a creative work that are usually reviewed include the design, typography, images, videos, elements, etc.

Some creative agencies still rely on the traditional methods of creative proofing, which means they have to deal with the hurdles of multiple emails pinging everywhere, not knowing the current version of the project which is under review, printed proofs getting lost, and lack of clarity on who is signing off, among many others which we will soon discuss in this article. But for teams who decide to use online proofing tools, the process is easier and more organized for collaboration between multiple stakeholders. The only problem that may arise includes: not having a  streamlined creative proofing process or, not having a  good online proofing tool to help with their creative proofs.

In this article, we will discuss some challenges faced by creative agencies when it comes to creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration. And we will discuss the various ways to overcome those challenges.

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Challenges with Creative Proofing and Stakeholder Collaboration

Lack of clarity in feedback

One of the main challenges faced by creative agencies is clarity in feedback. And this is usually because proofs are not being submitted in one place. You would usually have separate emails and attachments pinging everywhere. There’s also confusion about which version is the most recent. Furthermore,  the lack of clarity on who’s responsible for signing off on the project can be confusing as well. When this happens, it is very difficult to know what is being reviewed. Feedback becomes unclear and this usually delays the process because of the back-and-forth communication.

Communication barriers

Another challenge is the communication barrier. If your sole means of communication between the internal team at your agency and your external stakeholders is video calls, emails, Slack chats, and the like, then you will have communication challenges. This is because these means are not the most effective when it comes to creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration.

Getting external stakeholder/client feedback can be very difficult as you need to wait till everybody can get on the Zoom call to work on reviews and approvals. The only other alternative you may have is using emails and chats. Which means taking screenshots and recordings and writing long texts of descriptions to talk about the issue or problem. Another thing that ties into the communication barrier is the fact that it is difficult sharing the designs with multiple stakeholders and getting their feedback in one place. These communication barriers usually lead to approval delays.

Creative work taking too long to be approved

Due to the lack of clarity in feedback and communication barriers, the approval of creative proofs will likely be delayed. This usually leads to important deadlines being missed.

The back and forths that comes with emails, as well as the long hours spent on video calls with no progress being made is one thing that most creative agencies suffer. In a fast-growing and changing world, synchronous conversations or meetings are not always ideal. So the video call you need to have because the proofs you received via email are not making sense, will not be instantaneous. How are you going to ensure that your client with a different time zone makes it to a meeting to fit your schedule? At the same time, internal teams are often spread around the world. So yes, synchronous meetings are not always ideal. If they are one of your main means of ensuring that creative works are proofed and approved, you will be faced with time constraints all the time. There will be delays and you will miss important deadlines.

Inefficient workflows

What does your creative proofing process look like? Do you have to constantly deal with back-and-forth sending of iterations and cumbersome feedback and review processes? Not to mention exporting large files to share work from Adobe, Figma, etc. An inefficient workflow is one thing we would not wish for any creative agency. It’s a lot of work and in the end, may not even lead to the desired results. It’s even worse if you do not have a workflow to work with. Because without it, dealing with the other challenges mentioned becomes more difficult.

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How to Overcome Creative Proofing & Stakeholder Collaboration Challenges

It’s worth noting that the way to overcome the aforementioned challenges is in two ways. That is, having a streamlined creative proofing process and using an appropriate online proofing tool. The solutions we will be discussing in this section will all fall under these 2 broad categories: process and tool. Let’s begin!

Give contextualized feedback on creative proofs

One way to address the issue of clarity in the feedback process is by giving contextualized feedback. When internal and external stakeholders are able to give contextualized feedback on creative designs, it is easier to know the issue being discussed. All members will be on the same page. Online proofing tools like zipBoard allows both internal and external stakeholders to leave contextualized feedback on digital assets and collaborate in the same platform.

using annotation and commenting tools in zipBoard to give contextualized feedback during creative proofing
Using annotation and commenting tools in zipBoard to give contextualized feedback

Use a centralized online creative proofing tool

A centralized online creative proofing tool is one that allows all stakeholders to collaborate on creative projects in one place. No long email threads pinging everywhere, no video calls. Leave your reviews, comments, and suggestions all in one location. A creative online proofing tool like zipBoard will help you improve your team’s communication and ensure successful creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration. This is because clients get to leave their reviews asynchronously using screenshots and annotations allowing internal stakeholders to review the feedback and work on issues anytime. It’s pretty simple and you won’t have to worry about time zones or missing emails.

centralize all your creative proofs in one place
Kanban and list views of tasks in zipBoard

Have a streamlined creative proofing process

Having a well-defined process is the first step, and the next is to ensure that it is streamlined and efficient. A streamlined creative proofing process involves steps that ensure that a creative project is reviewed and approved efficiently and effectively. With a streamlined process, you can enhance quality while managing time constraints and avoiding delays when it comes to receiving feedback and approval. Once you have a streamlined process, get an online proofing tool that can suit your creative proofing needs. Check this eBook for the steps involved in a streamlined creative proofing process.

creative proofing process - steps involved
Steps involved in a creative proofing process - zipBoard

Simplify collecting and receiving feedback

One way to simplify creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration is to encourage visual collaboration. Collaborating visually can help simplify collecting feedback from internal members, clients, and other external stakeholders. This is because they will be able to leave feedback directly on the project with using easy-to-use visual review tools. This is simple and makes the work of the internal team easier since they will know where exactly the issue is. This cuts down the time they will spend sorting out images and screen recordings before resolving the issue. Visual collaboration tools like zipBoard can help.

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Creative Proofing & Stakeholder Collaboration Made Simple with zipBoard

zipBoard is a centralized online proofing tool that allows internal and external stakeholders to collaborate in one place using visual review and annotation tools. With zipBoard, you can:

  1. Get more context together with environmental details to help fix issues faster.
  2. Keep your projects organized and in sync with external stakeholders. This helps you integrate client feedback into your internal team workflow.
  3. Get all your proofs and comments in one place. Be it live websites, web apps, PDF documents, images, videos, etc., you can get comments on them all in one place. 
  4. Maintain different versions of the project and track reviews of multiple collaborators.
  5. Get clarity on team/ collaborator roles. You’ll know who’s responsible for signing off at each phase.
  6. Integrate your favorite tools. Integrate zipBoard with communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Or you can create custom integrations, to help manage your online proofs.

Having a streamlined creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration process is as important as having the appropriate online proofing tool to execute the process. With the solutions given in this article, you will be able to achieve both and take your agency’s creative proofing and stakeholder collaboration to the next level with the right tool and process.

Streamline your Creative Proofing & Stakeholder Collaboration with zipBoard

Start your free trial or book a demo today to see if zipBoard is the right online proofing tool for your agency.

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Author’s bio:

Dorcas is a Content Marketing Specialist at zipBoard. She began her content marketing journey alongside her BA in Political Science and Spanish at the University of Ghana. If she is not tapping away at her keyboard or spending time on Twitter and LinkedIn, she spends her day reading articles, newsletters and books.

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