What is online proofing?

Proofing creatives and other marketing materials have come a long way from fax machines to emails and Slack. It brought an improvement in productivity and clarity in work. 

But has it completely checked off your list allowing you to quickly sign off on any creative? Are all the stakeholders working in harmony when it comes to giving feedback? Review and approval of a creative is a crucial part of every project.

That’s where online proofing software comes into play. It is a cloud-based software that makes the entire process of sharing feedback and approval much smoother, helping you to quickly approve the creative and move on to the next.

What is online proofing?

Definition of online proofing

Online proofing refers to the process of reviewing, collaborating, and approving digital content through a web-based platform. It is commonly used in industries such as graphic design, marketing, and advertising to streamline the review and approval process of creative assets. What makes online proofing better than the rest is how it can make the collaboration process much more effective by centralizing feedback on online proofing software.
Online proofing tools like Artwork Flow cut your approval time by half and make your work much easier.

An online proofing software can include annotation tools, comparison tools, multi-stage approvals, high-speed rendering, custom workflows and checklists, and more.  So how does online proofing work? Let’s find it out!

Top 3 reasons online proofing is better than email proofing

Emails are no doubt the all-time favorite for work communication. But when it comes to sharing feedback on creatives, online proofing software has more convenient and reliable features which saves you a lot of your time.

Centralized platform

Imagine sending emails back and forth and creating an email thread to involve other stakeholders in the project. What you send by email can never be edited and there’s a chance that you might miss out on attaching the right version of the file. Online proofing provides a centralized platform for proper collaboration eliminating the need for scattered emails and attachments. This speeds up the review and approval process compared to the delayed nature of email communication.

Version control

Tracking different versions of your creative is more in control in review and approval software, reducing the risk of confusion caused by multiple email attachments with similar file names. Online proofing systems also provide a detailed history of comments, changes, and approvals for accountability and traceability which is hard to follow on an email thread.

Time efficiency

How many times do you check your email just for feedback or approval? The organized workflow and review process in online proofing saves time compared to the often chaotic email communication, resulting in faster project completion. You can find all the comments and iterations in one place preventing both the designer and the reviewers from making the same mistake again.

What are the benefits of online proofing software?

Online proofing systems extensively improve collaboration, accuracy, and efficiency in the review and approval process, making them invaluable tools for creative teams and industries that work with visual content.

Creative collaboration

Online proofing simplifies real-time collaboration among team members, clients, and stakeholders. You can simultaneously view, comment, and annotate content, starting quick communication and leaving no room for errors. You can collaborate remotely as well with no geographical boundary restrictions.

Efficiency and accuracy

Online proofing can streamline the review and approval process by providing a common platform for collaboration. You can avoid typos and repetitive feedback through visual annotation and comments. This eliminates the need for never-ending email iterations, reducing communication delays and meeting project deadlines.

Project workflow

Online proofing combines seamlessly with project workflows, providing a structured approval process. It ensures that content moves through the necessary review stages in an organized and efficient manner before getting approval and going live.


Online proofing software ensures your marketing materials adhere to the brand in terms of guidelines, legal requirements, and industry standards. This ensures consistency in messaging and brand and legal compliance helping to preserve your brand image in public.

Version organization

Approving and releasing the wrong version of the creative is every marketer’s nightmare. However online proofing offers a version control feature that ensures you use the most up-to-date version of the content where you can track each change systematically. This prevents confusion and ensures that the approved version is used in further stages.

Audit trails

Proofing tools often provide audit trails, offering a detailed history of comments, changes, and approvals. This improves accountability and you can always go back to refer to the old set of feedback.

Online proofing in industries

Various industries make use of online proofing to mainly streamline their design and collaboration processes. Here are some key industries that commonly use online proofing:

Graphic design

It is one of the primary industries where online proofing is essential. Graphic designers can trust online proofing tools to share their drafts, receive feedback, and collaborate with other stakeholders. Reworking on the version would be easier with the ability to view comments from different teams in one place.

Marketing and advertising

With dozens of creative assets to review and approve every day, marketing and advertising agencies use online proofing to check various creatives, including advertisements, brochures, banners, and other promotional materials. Online proofing helps ease the process and helps you sign off on the creative before d-day.

Food and beverage

Packaging design is crucial in industries such as food and beverages. Online proofing enables the approval process for their packaging designs, ensuring that they meet branding and regulatory requirements. This way, they can avoid errors in the packaging print and not miss out on any recently updated industry standard rules.


Photographers and photography studios can benefit from online proofing by using the online proofing system to share edited images with clients, allowing for feedback, selection, and approval of final shots. This practice helps them to collaborate and edit efficiently.

Web design and development

To streamline the approval process for various web projects such as creating variations for a website layout, designing user interfaces and graphic elements, and such, designers and developers use online proofing tools. It helps them to stay on-brand and launch the website on time.

Printing and publishing

Be it reviewing advertisements, magazines, or brochures, online proofing is necessary in the printing and publishing industry. From visuals to copy, online proofing helps you spot typos or prevent you from using the wrong brand colors, ensuring print quality and brand consistency.


To ensure high-quality content is available to students, education and e-learning industries use online proofing to review and approve the study materials. This practice improves the efficiency of content creation.

Manufacturing and product design teams

Teams involved in manufacturing and product design use online proofing for collaborative reviews of product visuals, packaging designs, and marketing materials. It ensures that the final product aligns with design specifications and branding guidelines. This practice prevents any printing defect or callback due to false information.

Choosing your ideal online proofing software

Want to reap excellent results with the available resources? The right online proofing software helps you to collaborate effectively, streamline workflows, and approve content efficiently.

Here are key features to look for in an ideal review and approval software:

User-friendly interface

No matter how good the features are, the platform should be easy to navigate and have fast loading speed. A less complicated software that minimizes the learning curve and makes teams adapt smoothly to collaborate seamlessly is a perfect blend of everything.

Collaboration tools

Communication is important in collaboration. Online proofing software can bring in effective communication within the platform, eliminating the need for external communication channels like emails. But how? A good online proofing system should offer robust collaboration features, including real-time commenting, annotation tools, and transparent discussions which are crucial.

Version management

Want to go back to the previous version? You can maintain a clear track record of the same creative in different versions without confusing yourself. The version control feature tracks changes made to the creatives along with allowing you to compare different iterations and revert to the older version, if necessary.

Custom workflows

Flexible workflows let you bounce between the creator and the reviewer to see the status of the feedback process. This feature is particularly valuable for projects that require multi-stage approvals involving different stakeholders.

Compatible file types

This is an important characteristic that you have to check. The review and approval software should support a variety of file types commonly used in your organization, such as images, PDFs, documents, design, video, and audio files. This ensures flexibility and compatibility with the diverse range of content your team works with.

Notification alerts

Having a powerful notification setup ensures team members are promptly informed of new updates such as comments, revisions, or approvals. This feature helps maintain an active and responsive collaboration environment.

Third-party integration

Look for online proofing software that integrates seamlessly with other tools commonly used in your workflow, such as project management, design software, or cloud storage. Integration carries the overall workflow efficiency to the next level and reduces the need to switch between different platforms.

Security measures

Prioritize the security of your sensitive assets especially while collaborating with external teams. The ideal review and approval software should have secure access controls, data encryption, and compliance with industry-standard security protocols.

Why you should consider Artwork Flow’s online proofing software

Artwork Flow’s robust online proofing software is apt for different teams varying from small businesses to enterprises. This is why we think Artwork Flow can match your team's requirements.

1. Intuitive platform

Rated 4.8 out of 5 by G2, Artwork Flow has a powerful online proofing feature that is also easily navigable. You can easily upload files of any size for proofing which renders at high speed and can zoom up to 6000% giving you more visual clarity. The user-friendly nature of the platform results in a smooth onboarding process for any manager and client.

2. Version comparison

Want to see where you went wrong? Compare different versions of the same creative side-by-side. With Artwork Flow, you can handle multiple iterations of a creative like a pro. This feature helps to track changes, understand revisions, and give clarity on the collaborative review process. Review and approval software keeps the changes transparent for all.

3. Real-time collaboration tools

Working simultaneously from different corners of the world is now easy! Share your feedback with smart annotations. You can highlight the subject or draw shapes around to leave comments. This way, team members, clients, and stakeholders can provide precise feedback without repeating it which makes the job of the editor easy as well.

4. Flexible workflows and checklists

Digital proofing by Artwork Flow enables the creation of custom workflows and checklists for proofing creatives. This feature streamlines the review process, resulting in efficient approvals and progress of the project on time. The checklist feature allows you to create a structured set of criteria for content approval, improving consistency and adherence to quality standards.

5. Asset compatibility

Supporting over 160 file types, the online proofing feature by Artwork Flow allows you to proof common files that various teams deal with daily. This flexibility allows you from online picture proofing to video proofing.

6. Free proofing tools

Apart from the above-mentioned proofing features, Artwork Flow also offers its users free online proofing tools to get started in the world of online proofing. This gives you an idea of proofing creatives effortlessly. These tools help you find fonts, extract colors, measure dimensions, speed up FDA compliance review with AI-powered tools, and more from your creatives.

7. Security

Artwork Flow goes beyond to ensure your data is well-secured. With ISO certification and a SOC 2 compliance badge, this robust online proofing system takes compliance seriously so the teams can share sensitive files and collaborate on creatives securely.

Quick tips to review creatives using online proofing

Now that you know how online proofing can benefit your business, it is essential to know how to make the most out of creative reviews using efficient online proofing software. It is only a matter of combining best practices and strategic approaches.

1. Set clear guidelines

Establish clear guidelines and realistic goals for the review process. Clearly communicate the criteria for feedback, approval stages, and any specific requirements to streamline the review and avoid ambiguity.

2. Use real-time collaboration features

Make use of the real-time collaboration tools in the online proofing tool. Encourage stakeholders to provide immediate feedback, comments, and annotations, nurturing dynamic and efficient communication during the review process.

3. Share specific feedback

Encourage reviewers to provide specific and actionable feedback. Clearly state what aspects of the creative need attention or improvement. Specific feedback helps creative teams understand the reviewers' expectations and implement changes more effectively.

4. Establish a structured approval workflow

Implement a structured approval workflow within the online proofing platform. Define clear stages of review and approval, ensuring that content progresses through the necessary steps before reaching the final approval stage.

5. Use version management effectively

Use version control features to keep track of changes and revisions. This ensures that reviewers are always working with the latest version of the creative. With the version comparison feature, compare different versions side-by-side to give more precise feedback. This practice minimizes confusion and maintains consistency throughout the review process.

6. Automate notifications

Take advantage of automated notification systems within the proofing tool. Ensure that team members receive timely alerts for new comments, revisions, or approvals, keeping everyone informed and engaged throughout the review process. This way you won’t miss out on any important tasks and meet your deadlines on time.

7. Involve clients early

Engaging clients from the beginning will help you align their goals and perspectives. This way, you can fast-track the project and avoid multiple iterations.

8. Encourage collaboration across teams

Make sure you foster collaboration across different teams and departments on your online proofing software. Ensure that team members from marketing, design, legal, and other departments are involved in the review process. Involving them can bring fresh perspectives and expertise to the table.

9. Review various file types

Remember that review and approval software not only is designed to review creatives but also to review PowerPoint slides, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and more. A good online proofing tool can render any assets at high speed and allows you to magnify even up to 6000% which allows you to review with more clarity.

10. Conduct post-review assessments

Last but not least, every time a review process is completed, conduct post-review assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of the creative review. Gather feedback on the review process itself, identify areas for improvement, and take away the lessons learned for future projects.

Frequently asked questions on online proofing

 How does online proofing differ from traditional proofing methods?

Online proofing streamlines the review process by providing a centralized, digital platform for collaboration, eliminating the need for physical proofs and reducing turnaround times.

How do designers benefit from online proofing software?

With features like real-time collaboration and structured approval workflows, designers can easily collaborate with each stakeholder, receive centralized feedback, and speed up project timelines. This increases their efficiency and saves a heap of time instead of going back and forth with the design. 

How does online proofing contribute to project efficiency?

Online proofing reduces communication delays, minimizes errors, and provides a structured workflow, resulting in faster project completion.

What types of files are supported in online proofing?

Online proofing tools typically support a variety of file formats, including images, PDFs, documents, videos, audio, and other common design file types.