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How to Collect Multi-Reviewer Feedback on Design Proofs

As a designer, marketer or creative client manager you already know how much of a journey getting work approved can be.

So what’s the ultimate way to do it? Is there one?

In getting to that answer you can consider two opposing workflows: one using Acrobat and email and the other using the more collaborative GoProof online proofing software. The conundrum is choosing which one to use and this can often depend on the sensitivity of the project and who’s involved in proofing it.

Let’s start with Acrobat and email. This is great for isolating individual feedback from everyone’s prying eyes and stops it being influenced. From your Adobe Creative product such as InDesign, export a comment-enabled PDF and send it on a separate email to each of your reviewers so they get their own version.

They can mark up the file using Acrobat Comment Toolbar options and give it a status such as Completed, Rejected or Approved, so you get an immediate summary of their feelings on it.

 

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Once they’ve commented, they email the PDF back to you to view their markups, which you can do both in isolation and next to those of other reviewers who’ve sent theirs back. You can call to discuss it with them, listen to their angles and reach an agreement for any changes after this if you choose.

And you can always centralize the reviewer feedback by combining everyone’s comments onto one PDF and emailing it back out.

This ‘closed’ workflow protects reviewers from getting publicly exposed, which will appeal to certain personality and client segments. The emailing or file sharing eats up valuable time though and always starts with a PDF export, which means you have to stop designing or the proof becomes historic. And concatenating PDFs together isn’t something that’s top of everyone’s ideal task list.

The second and opposite way to review work is to let everyone share and comment on proofs openly together from the start – without a PDF in sight. You share content directly from your Adobe CC extension panel.

 

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This is where GoProof online proofing software comes in, providing a more collaborative process with an extension in Adobe CC connecting directly with a secure reviewing website. There’s also an iOS & Android design feed app to tell you when comments come in.

Once you’ve installed the GoProof extension, the wizard panel helps you add and manage reviewers and give them levels of authority such as Observer, Reviewer or Gatekeeper. Only Gatekeepers can authorize design changes and sign work off, for example, and passwords can be set as an extra layer of security before they can view proofs.

Hitting the Send Proof button in the CC extension publishes the proof to the GoProof website and triggers notification email and mobile app messages inviting the reviewers to take a look. They view the proof online in one shared team space and make their comments alongside their colleagues and potentially clients if invited. Gatekeepers send work back for version changes and sign off when happy. GoProof tracks all version history in a timeline trail.

In an increasingly Slack-fuelled generation, this collaboration method gets reviewers working as a team from the start. Issues are hit head-on early, mission creep is reduced and team inclusion and positivity increases.

And no more PDF exports may be the biggest win of all, as proofs are sent from your InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator CC palette as part of a tidy and efficient workflow. It saves hours in needless design admin, meaning you can take on more customers and solves the problem of different versions out with different people.

Compared to the closed Acrobat process there’s no doubt it may scare some people to work in this open way – especially when you are inviting the more introverted reviewers – but there are no skeletons in the closet.

Two ways of working to consider. Both with a purpose and a time and a place. The answer could simply be BOTH.

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