Clients are often short on words to truly explain their expectations and reactions in detail, over traditional forms of communication. As a designer, you may have found yourself struggling to understand exactly what the client wants from your designs once you’ve submitted a few mockups. Usually they want something to “pop”.
Thankfully, web technologies have advanced to the point that newer, more efficient means of communications have arrived — that are specifically tailored for this purpose.
I like to gather feedback, early and often. For this, I use web based proofing services. They are cheap and very efficient is maintaining an efficient channel of communication with the client. They help keep the designer and the client stay on the same page at all time.
Over the last 12 months, quite a few contenders have emerged in this space. Let’s have a look:
ProofHQ is a comprehensive proofing tool — complete with contact and client management and full featured annotation, review and approval process management.
The app provides a very intuitive interface for feedback and approval management for designers as well as decision makers in the client company.
ProofHQ is not just limited to web designers, it can also satisfy the proofing needs of professional print designers. It handles Adobe Creative Suite ((Photoshop .PSD and Illustrator .AI files have been tested. Other formats may or may not be supported.)) and multi-page PDF files with ease.
Among many great features, one that stands out is Basecamp integration. The seamless integration with the existing projects and milestones in Basecamp makes ProofHQ a perfect companion app.
Drag-and-Drop integration with the desktop and version management of concepts are nifty features that make this app truly fantastic.
For the solitary freelance designer, there is the $17/month package with 2GB is storage and up to 30 proofs per month. There are 5 more packages, suitable for teams of all sizes, from 2 to 40 users.
Up to 40 GB of storage and 1000 proofs per month is enough for quite a large company. The price tag of $299/month is more than reasonable.
Onotate is another great service that focuses on annotation of design mockups. This tool gives the reviewer some really nifty tools to pinpoint the issues and annotate them clearly for the designer.
The simplicity on Onotate is sheer brilliance. The creation of Projects and Stages, as well the upload of concepts was a seamless process — all done through a brilliantly minimalistic interface.
The reviewers are given straight-forward tools for annotation and commenting on the concept. You can choose your mood when leaving a feedback on a concept.
Onotate would be perfect for the freelance designer showing off their concepts and prototypes to clients and gathering feedback. I would imagine the client would love the minimalistic interface that lets them get the work done without getting in the way.
The pricing plan is very simple. The only plan is $15/month and provides access for unlimited people to unlimited storage. Very good value for money, if you ask me.
This is a startup which recently acquired GetSignOff and have cooked up something quite fabulous.
DesignSignOff, as the name suggests, focuses on the process of review and sign-off of web design design prototypes. The app allows smooth collaboration between all parties and helps agencies get to the all-important milestone – Design SignOff.
What differentiates this app from the rest is its outstanding presentation toolkit. The app is designed for agencies that pitch concepts to clients. The clients can view the concepts in their own browsers and when the time is right, leave valuable feedback.
DesignSignOff is not just for design review and approval, it handles everything from pitch to sign-off. This is a truly innovative solution that alleviates much headache and streamlines the process at many top agencies.
The package for ‘the little guy’ is $12 per month provides access to 1 user and allows 3 clients and up to 10 projects.
For small groups, the $25 per month package allows 20 clients and 50 projects, as well as SSL security. If you’re a behemoth looking for everything unlimited, it will set you back by a rather measly $35 a month.
ConceptShare is the leading tool for design presentation and review. It cannot be easier to upload your design proofs for review. Almost every client I have worked with have familiarized with the interface of ConceptShare within minutes.
Update: There has been a few changes with ConceptShare. They are now focused towards agencies and businesses looking for proofing software. If you are representing an agency, get in touch with their Sales Department for a trial.
In my experience, the clients love web based proofing because it allows them to show off the designer’s work to their colleagues and loved ones and gather their opinions which, in turn, shapes their own opinion. Nearly half my clients come back to me with feedback from their wives!
Web based Design Proofing/Review and Sign-off applications are a major part of my design process.
What are your experiences with such applications? Let me know your thoughts and opinion.