I’ve probably said this before, but one of the hardest things to do when freelancing or working remotely in design or development is getting feedback and suggested changes for proofs. Email is generally the medium of choice, but only because nothing better is really out there. Until now, that is.
I took the chance to review the site and fiddle around with how ProofHQ works after accepting their advertisement on this site. I created an account and spent some time working from the back end as a âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬designerâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ (I’ll admit that my artistic skills are Kindergarten at best) and then again from the other perspective as a âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬clientâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ proofing the materials presented.
Let me tell you, this site is extremely impressive. I expected another hack-job like I’ve seen before: lots of promise, great-looking promo materials, but no delivery once you actually use the app. Not here. ProofHQ does everything they say it will and it does it with a lot of slick app tools you don’t think of until you need them.
It basically works like this: you create your account and log in through the Web interface to upload proof materials (in my case a large PNG and a pdf doc). The site will accept most major file types like XLS, BMP, TIFF, DOC, etc. Then I created a client profile with an email address, message to tell them what the email is for, and so forth. The idea in this case was that the pdf explained the project upload, which was the PNG graphic.
Then I directed the browser on my other computer to log in as the âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬clientâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ by clicking on the email link. From that end, I was looking at the project information (description, project manager, etc.) and given a screen focused on the PNG image of the project. From there, I could do all kinds of markup to make my points for design changes. Circling items to reference, drawing arrows (free-form or with built-in pointer tools) and all kinds of great ways to explain what I was talking about are right there.
The client-side tool is missing a few things that might be usefulâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â€šÃ„Ã¹especially the ability to input text right onto the project instead of off to the side as commentsâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â€šÃ„Ã¹but overall was exactly what a client would need: easy, quick, and no-nonsense tools. Nothing fancy or confusing at all. Perfect.
One of the little tools I didn’t think about needing until it came up was the ability to point to URLs automatically when you type âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬www.anythingâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ or âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬http://âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ – it creates an auto-link right away. Really cool. Another one is the auto-saving, which in my case was great because my old system had one of its random failures in the middle of my test and the browser crashed. All of the comments and markup I’d done were still there, though, when I went back to it. Nice!
For group collaborations, all those involved in the project can look at the same proofs and at each other’s commentary and markups. These are kept in a historical format so that you’re looking at them in the order they were created. Handy for multiple-party projects. The comments on specific features are in a threaded discussion, chat-room history style, so you can go through them in chronological order easily.
Actions are the final step in the project markups. The owner (the one who created the beginning proof) can set any comment (or create a new one) and make it an âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬actionâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ so that others working on the same proof can know that a decision has been made and this is what’s to be done. Designers can even create to-do lists from these actions (with commentary for explanation) too.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with this app and think that many in the Web design and development field will find it extremely useful and time-saving. There’s a free 14-day trial with a few restrictions, but prices aren’t bad at all. There’s a totally free option that pretty limited, but might be good enough for a single-person freelance shop. Then prices start at $17/month, so they’re very reasonable. Prices are tiered by number of proofs per month.
Definitely worth checking out if you’re in need of a great collaboration tool aimed directly towards designers.