Proving It Online
A key to running a successful business is knowing what your customers want, and after two years of feedback from users of its Internet-based soft proofing applications, Proof-it-Online has listened and expanded its product line from its core solution to three separate offerings and an add-on.
Based on its original concept Proof-it-Online offers POL Connect and has added PDF Select for graphic arts professionals who work in a PDF workflow, and DHS Custom Solution for high-volume, multi-location and franchise-type applications. In addition the company unveiled Approval Share, a virtual routing add-on for clients with multiple reviewers that works with either POL Connect or PDF Select.
"POL Connect online proofing allows the user to annotate and to comment without having to download any specific software," says Mary Beth Hose, director of marketing of Proof-it-Online. "The document can be viewed from anywhere in the world and can support JPEG and PDF files."
Feedback showed customers wanted the ability to print out PDF files, says Hose, which POL Connect didn't allow. That was the impetus for developing PDF Select, which allows the user to make comments on the page.
"We found that some of our customers wanted to print the PDF out and that wasn't available through POL Connect," says Hose. "[With PDF Select] customers view the document through [Acrobat] Reader, and there is a column to the left of the PDF file where a person can make notes and comments."
The application tracks all of the communication so the designer can follow the document through several stages of the approval process. Further market studies revealed the need for an add-on that allowed multiple edits for clients with an involved approval process. The add-on application allows more than one person to markup the document.
"Approval Share allows your customer to view your changes and add their own changes and comments," says Hose. "When someone is going through the reviewal process they can mark up the document and forward it to another person with an e-mail saying who they are forwarding it to. That person can view it, read the comments and add their own. Prior to this feature a number of people were able to access and look at a document but only one person could mark it up."
DHS Customized Solution, or dedicated hosted solution, targets large customers that need a customized application for specific corporate needs. The application accesses existing image servers and databases and integrates them into complex workflows.
"Many of our clients are large divisions of an even larger corporation," explains Rob Munz, president of Proof-it-Online. "Our creation of the DHS Custom Solution is in direct response to what they have been asking for, which is our core approval technologies coupled with their existing internal workflow processes and infrastructure."
The new products were in development for about nine months, says Hose, before going live in early June. The company simplifies its product to target companies with a designer-to-client relationship rather than designer-to-designer. Its experience in the field allowed it to receive the feedback needed to complete the upgrade.
"We launched our first version in 1999," adds Hose, "and we were out there ahead of everyone else, which gave us the opportunity to get some feedback. We appeal to what the majority of graphic designers need; a basic product and a way to communicate it online and present their proofs."