Imagine: You spend days, weeks or even months creating your marketing content just to realize after you have published your content that you missed a spelling mistake or used an outdated product image.
Mistakes like these happen all too often. Not only do they nullify the efforts you put into a certain project, but in the worst cases, they can have a negative effect on your business.
To ensure that your content is free of mistakes, brand consistent and up to your high-quality standards, you need an established online proofing process. The best way to manage this process is with the help of online proofing software. Therefore, we would like to share with you 20 of the best online proofing tools that help optimize your content.
What Is Online Proofing?
Online proofing describes the cloud-based review and approval of content. In this process, content creators upload their draft to an online platform where it can be reviewed, discussed and approved by all responsible decision-makers.
What does online proofing mean? The fact that the content review process takes place in the cloud has the advantage that reviewers can collaboratively work on files, add comments, discuss changes and clarify issues – all in real-time. Furthermore, online proofing platforms streamline the workflow since all feedback is collected in a single place.
Who Uses Online Proofing and Why?
Even though online proofing can be used in many different departments of a company, for some teams, it’s essential. These include:
As the marketing team creates content for the target audience and customers of a company, it’s mandatory that every piece of content goes through a review and approval process. Even small mistakes, outdated information or other slip-ups can harm your company’s reputation and lead to a negative experience for customers which can impact revenue. Therefore, the marketing team should have an established online proofing software to ensure quality, consistency and accuracy.
The design team works closely with the marketing team to create content for specific marketing campaigns or other projects. Choosing or creating visuals that don’t fit the purpose of the communication will have a negative impact on the organization. Therefore, the design team should also use online proofing to get feedback and approval for their work.
Whether they are part of the marketing team or not, copywriters use online proofing software on a daily basis. No matter if it is a book, website content or translations, content will be of the highest quality with online proofing, so that your clients are happy with the results.
Without online proofing, the approval process can be especially painful for video creators and reviewers. Instead of adding quick remarks to a video, reviewers have to attach screenshots or add comments to lengthy email chains. Not only does this take a lot of time, it also increases the likelihood that video creators may miss important points when making revisions.
When it comes to document review and approval, the legal team can benefit from online proofing software as well. A wrong number in a contract, missing information or other mistakes can have a tremendous impact on your business. Therefore, the legal department needs a reliable proofing tool to minimize mistakes.
What Is Online Proofing Software?
Online proofing software is a cloud-based approval software that simplifies and streamlines the online proofing process. The content review process takes place on a single platform that can be accessed through an internet browser on a PC or a mobile phone.
The fact that online proofing takes place in the cloud opens up a wide range of collaboration features, such as sharing files, leaving and discussing comments as well as mentioning other users. This leads to much better results than email chains or messenger groups and is one of the many reasons why online proofing software has been so successful and widely adopted.
Structure your approval workflows
The approval process is one of the most underestimated processes within the entire content creation workflow. In it, all users need to find a common denominator, see their feedback implemented and give approval.
Content review and approval software such as Filestage allows all users to leave time-based approval stamps so that content creators can react in real-time. Administrators can structure each and every project with folders when uploading, reviewing and approving all types of digital assets, from PDFs to images and videos.
Automate and streamline your workflows
Online proofing software offers a variety of automation features to streamline your content workflow. After a content creator has uploaded the first content draft, all reviewers are automatically notified to leave comments once they are added to the system. By adding deadlines to each file, projects can be coordinated much more efficiently.
Organize your teams more efficiently
As marketing teams are no silos, many decentralized companies make decisions in a democratic way. This usually leads to good results; however, it is hard to implement without having the right approval software in place. No matter what team structure you have, from matrix to virtual teams – approval software offers the right tools to break down functional silos.
It should be clear by now that online proofing software is indispensable when it comes to creating efficient approval workflows. You can find out more about online proofing workflows in the later sections.
In the following section, we discuss the benefits of online proofing software for you and your team.
Benefits of Online Proofing Software for Your Team and Company
You might be asking yourself why your company should set up an online review and approval process and adopt online proofing software. If you take a closer look at online proofing software, you will find many tangible and intangible benefits that contribute to the success of your business.
Therefore, we summarize the most important benefits that your company will gain from online proofing software.
Online proofing software enables multiple teams to work closely together on a single platform. Long email threads are replaced by a clear process, making work more efficient and saving valuable time on a daily basis. Additionally, the tool reminds reviewers of outstanding tasks and deadlines.
Higher quality output
While most companies have established functional Q&A processes for their products, only a few companies apply the same level of standardization to the content produced by their marketing, design or legal teams. An online review process ensures that all content has been double-checked before being published.
As all comments and approvals are traceable, content creators can implement feedback without the need to go through lengthy email chains. The fact that everything is transparent contributes to a better communication structure and less misunderstandings within your entire organization.
The right online proofing software ensures that you can perfectly implement your brand guidelines. Just involve your brand manager in the review process to make sure every new piece of content aligns with your guidelines.
If you want a solution that requires cross-functional efforts, such as brand management, you need to break down the silo effect between departments. Online proofing tools make collaboration within and between teams much easier as they enable people to leave and discuss feedback with each other. This open communication increases transparency and reduces misunderstandings, which, in turn, reduces the number of feedback rounds that creators and reviewers need to go through.
Contributions to the top and bottom line
The previous considerations make clear that online proofing software is a valuable investment for small and large enterprises because high-quality marketing materials help you win more customers.
As you streamline workflows and increase employee efficiency, online proofing software directly contributes to the bottom line of your business.
Therefore, it is not a question of whether you should use an online proofing tool, but rather, which one you should select. The following section summarizes 20 of the best online proofing tools that can optimize your approval process.
Overview of the 20 Best Online Proofing Software
Online proofing software comes in different forms. While artwork and design approval software contains the most suitable tools to streamline your graphic design process, legal documents need slightly different tools to make the most of your approval workflow.
Therefore, we are going to take a closer look at the best approval software for 2021.
Filestage – where the best work gets approved
Filestage is an online proofing software that simplifies and streamlines the content approval process for documents, images, videos and audio files. The platform enables teams to share, discuss and approve all files in one centralized place. Additionally, Filestage makes it easy for reviewers to leave precise feedback by adding comments and annotations when collaborating on files in real-time.
Filestage has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface that allows you to set up customized review processes and get started in minutes. Plus, with the project dashboard, you can maintain an overview of each file’s status. This transparency makes it even easier to manage your projects and ensure that they are finished on time.
Aproove – for streamlined approval workflows
Aproove is a work management tool that helps your team members turning work silos into collaborative spaces. An integrated task management function allows you to allocate work tasks to the right team members via customized to-do lists.
Aproove allows you to keep track of all user and project activity with Kanban and Dashboard views. Also, you can track and compare versions with version comparison tools like side-by-side comparison, ghosted comparison, pixel comparison, and overlay comparison. A weakness of the tool is that it gives external stakeholders too much control which can interrupt your workflow and make things more complicated.
Approval Studio – design approval software for creative teams
Approval Studio offers a solution to bring your creative assets to the next level: four comparison modes help creative teams make the most of the review and approval process. The online proofing tool supports most file types that the creative function utilizes and is available in seven languages.
The rotation and zoom functions allow users to view the layout from all sides and to rate all the details. Some users have reported that they had problems with uploading large PDF files and that they had to go through several training sessions to get used to this tool.
Ashore – automated creative workflows
Ashore is another online approval software for creatives. With this tool you can customize workflows by setting approval milestones for individual projects. Automation features ensure that all team members receive reminders if they forget to make a review. Ashore also has white-labeling capabilities so that you can add your own company logo and domain when collaborating with clients.
If you work a lot with designs a drawback of this tool can be that it has no integration with Adobe (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop). This prevents that corrections and additions from the client can directly pass on to the designer for approval.
Cospective – online proofing for film, TV and VFX
Cospective is a very specialized online proofing system that offers different approval toolboxes catered to the movie and entertainment industry. With cineSync, Cospective offers a remote review and approval system for film, TV and VFX. Frankie is another toolbox that enables your team to create real-time video reviews.
Cospective offers a niche online proofing software that is used by international film and television productions as well as creative studios involved in advertising, music and video creation.
Filecamp – online proofing and DAM
With Filecamp, you get an online proofing software and a digital asset management (DAM) system to manage all your digital assets. The online proofing features allow you to comment on and approve your files. You can also invite your clients to become reviewers by adding their email addresses to each project. Plus, the DAM system allows you to organize, share, tag, and distribute all your digital assets.
Although Filecamp offers a variety of features, some users are concerned about the poor mobile experience, the layout and the minimalistic UI. Since you only have a small preview image for each file it can be difficult to recognize pictures when navigating around. Also a drag and drop feature to move files is currently missing.
GoVisually – intuitive creative proofing software
GoVisually consists of a creative approval toolbox that mainly caters to three different target groups: Designers who need to collect feedback from internal and external clients, creative agencies and brands that need to streamline their review process, and marketing teams that need an intuitive way to review and approve their design and video files.
One issue that users reported is the disability to turn off email notifications. Therefore you receive too many emails so people will be disappointed and ignore them. Additionally, for really important changes or updates in your projects the notifications are missing at all.
GoProof – approval workflows with Adobe Creative Cloud® integration
GoProof is an online proofing software that caters mainly to the design function of your business. With GoProof, you can set up customizable approval journeys for design review and approval processes. GoProof offers an integration with Adobe Creative Cloud including InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator or Premiere Pro.
But you shouldn’t use this tool on your mobile device since many users mentioned that the mobile experience is very poor. Users also reported that file names are changed to accommodate the project which can lead to confusion and errors.
LookAt – review and collaboration for creative teams
LookAt enables designers and marketers to work with most commonly used file types including PSD, video files, Microsoft Office as well as HTML, just to name a few.
LookAt can be integrated with commonly-used editing tools such as Adobe Premiere, After Effects or The foundry’s Nuke Studio. You can also download files from cloud applications such as DropBox or Google Drive. Additionally, LookAt’s review and approval software contains version control management and comparison features, so that you can switch back and forth between the newest version and previous versions of your creative work.
A complaint from users is that the software is too pricey for the small number of projects you can create per month. Also, the low quality of the 360 video preview gets criticized.
PageProof – all-rounder approval toolbox
PageProof offers you an approval and review toolkit that includes features such as a ruler, gridlines, focus mode, automatic link checking, fonts, color analysis and much more.
Furthermore, you can route your review and approval process in a specific way, e.g. by starting at the marketing department and proceeding to sales and legal until the final approval can be made by upper management.
However, users can’t set up a deadline for each stage of the process which makes it more difficult to manage your process and meet deadlines for single stages or files.
Pastel – client project approval software
Pastel is an online approval tool that helps manage the review and approval process of creative content between your and your client’s organization. With Pastel, you can automatically create tickets in other programs such as Trello, Asana or Jira. The tool attaches information such as browser type, screen size as well as a screenshot of your tickets.
To start the review and approval process in Pastel, you can create an approval URL and share the link with internal team members or your client. This gives you the flexibility to invite all important stakeholders from inside and outside the organization to each project.
ProofHub – proofing and project planning
ProofHub is a popular web-based review and approval software that offers a large tool kit to plan, collaborate, organize and share your digital and creative content. The ProofHub software contains a variety of planning tools that enable you to create Kanban boards, Gantt charts, custom workflows and stakeholder management features to assign customized roles.
Plus, ProofHub can be integrated with software such as FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Outlook. According to users, it can be difficult to keep track of all your projects while still being able to see projects from others.
ProofQuick – for printers, photographers and designers
ProofQuick offers an online proofing solution for three distinct target markets: printers, photographers and designers. Whether your organization offers B2B or B2C services, ProofQuick allows you to invite anyone to your proofing process, without extra fees or data limits, so that you can collect feedback.
The online proofing software allows you to give feedback and approve PNG, PDF, JPG, GIF and EPS formats faster, leading to cost and time savings.
Many software providers say that their tool is simple and easy-to-use. If you want to make sure that the tool you’re going to buy really fits your needs, you should always test it out with a free trial.
RemarkHQ – video online proofing
RemarkHQ is a video collaboration and online proofing software for internal and external stakeholders. The web-based software focuses uniquely on creative video production, making marketing and video agencies as well as video creating freelancers the main target groups of the business.
The browser-based interface works across all devices and supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 9+ and Safari, just to name a few. Despite all the positive aspects of the tool, it only focuses on video collaboration. Since most teams also need to review and collaborate on other file formats, this tool may not fulfill all your needs.
ReviewStudio – streamlined project approval
ReviewStudio is an online proofing software that mainly caters to marketers and designers. The tool allows marketing teams to collaborate on images, videos, web content and PDFs. Side-by-side comparisons allow you to check the progress between two versions, further streamlining the review and approval process of all your projects.
ReviewStudio offers a single interface where web designers and reviewers can cooperate and exchange feedback. But a really important feature is missing: timestamped feedback. Also the comments are not sorted by their order in the video. So when you go through them, you might jump back and forth in your video or document, what can be confusing.
QuickReviewer – for fast online proofing
QuickReviewer allows you to streamline your entire review and approval process, no matter if you create images, PDFs, videos, audio files or websites. Its website proofing tool enables you to check banner ads, HTML pages, newsletters and live websites according to the responsiveness on different screen sizes. Plus, you can annotate each view on a single dashboard.
Currently, the tool doesn’t offer a mobile version. Some users criticize that you can’t see historical comments after a new version has been uploaded. Also, the tool offers only one commenting feature for documents.
Screenlight – for organized client feedback and creative work
Screenlight offers creative and marketing teams a single management platform to organize and manage client feedback. The more people are involved in a single creative project, the more problems designers may have when trying to implement all suggestions. Screenlight allows you to upload your work, share it among all stakeholders and to collect feedback.
Despite the strengths of the tool, some users complain about a lack of version control, missing support for side-by-side comparisons and difficulties with the UI.
WebProof – streamlined proofing workflows
WebProof offers a proofing management platform that gives you a bird’s-eye-view of all your projects. You can instantly see which projects need your attention. The interface allows you to check corrections, feedback, proofing and approval statuses. Furthermore, WebProof’s toolbox consists of useful features such as commenting, draw box, highlighter and collaboration tools. The tool also works seamlessly with famous third-party software such as InDesign or Illustrator.
In order to customize your flows you need an in-depth knowledge of workflow and processes in the tool. Also, it can be sometimes difficult to find the right information. Another thing that users reported is that you can’t download a PDF with comments to send it to stakeholders outside the system.
Workfront – streamlined workflow and project management
Workfront especially caters to marketing, IT and project managers. Its interface allows you to collaborate on multiple tasks, leave feedback and finish your work faster.
No matter if you need to optimize your feedback and proofing process or if you need a project and task management solution to optimize a complex workflow, WorkFront offers one platform that caters to multiple needs. Because this tool offers many features and a high level of customization it can be difficult and time-consuming to set it up. If you are looking for a tool to get started right away, this tool might be too complex.
Ziflow – simplified content review
With Ziflow, users can review videos, images, webpages, documents, and other content on a single platform. This platform enables users to visualize all relevant content pieces, making it easier to collect and implement feedback.
However, the tool doesn’t include task management features which can disturb the workflow and make work less efficient. Users also criticize that it can be confusing to set up projects until you learn the difference between the stages and the roles of reviewers and decision-makers. This means that your team might need several training sessions and spend a lot of time to get to know this tool.
The Structure of the Online Proofing Process
Now that you have a good overview of the most commonly used online proofing software, we outline the online proofing process in more detail.
Online proofing comprises the latter stage of the content creation process and starts after the first draft is created.
1. Ask for feedback
Upload your file to the online proofing platform and invite your reviewers by adding their email addresses, then they will be automatically notified that there is a new file for them to review.
2. Receive feedback
According to the roles and permissions of every team member, comments can be added and linked to a specific part on the file. Plus, you can add annotations and drawings and even attach examples to clarify your feedback. Regarding complex files such as videos, reviewers can just point and click inside the video to mark changes and leave comments.
3. Discuss feedback
If reviewers disagree with a comment or if the feedback needs further explanation, online proofing tools offer a wide range of collaboration features. In the comment section, reviewers and content creators can reply to other comments, mention people or add attachments to make things clearer.
4. Make revisions
Now the content creators can begin to implement all required changes. Depending on the given feedback, this phase might take a couple of hours or even days. Many tools offer integrated to-do lists that help editors to ensure that no feedback gets overlooked.
5. More feedback rounds
Once the changes from the first review step have been implemented and approved, this version goes to the second review step, where it gets proofed by another stakeholder group. Usually, designers need to upload several new versions to satisfy all reviewers and review groups.
6. Final approval
Once the file has gone through all review steps and has received final approval, you can easily download and share it on your planned channels. Additionally, you can add it to your company’s DAM system with just a few clicks.
As the above example shows, online proofing software such as Filestage simplifies and streamlines the entire online proofing process, saving valuable working hours for everyone involved.
In the following section, we dig a little deeper and show you how online proofing software contributes to the bottom line of your business.
How Online Proofing Can Contribute To Your Bottom Line
How can review and approval software add value to your business? In this section, we demonstrate how online proofing software contributes to your top and bottom lines.
Depending on the industry, brand compliance can be crucial to success – just think about the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, online proofing software can help you avoid damaging lawsuits. Besides, review and approval software adds consistency across all brand assets.
If you forget to review critical points in a contract, this could have long-lasting impacts on relationships with your clients. Online proofing assures that you add all necessary information to your contract.
With the help of an online proofing tool and review and approval software, your marketing team will be able to produce high-quality output at a faster pace, contributing to the top line of your business.
As anybody involved in online proofing is able to save time, you will benefit from a more efficient workforce. You can save hundreds of hours every month that could otherwise be wasted. This efficiency boost will enable your team to get more work done.
As we have seen, the best online proofing and review and approval software offers an easy and quick way to enhance the output of virtually all company functions while streamlining workflows.
Since every review team such as product management, marketing or legal can check specific criteria of your content and documents, a solid online proofing process enables your entire organization to make a leap in efficiency. This will have a tangible impact on the top and bottom lines of your business.
We hope we have provided you with valuable insights into online proofing software that will enable you to streamline one of the most undervalued business processes.