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The last thing any graphic designer wants to see is a great design maligned during the printing process — and for it to be the designer's fault. Not only does a bad print job waste time, it wastes money because you have to pay for another run if the mistake was your fault. Maybe you didn't bring the bleed out far enough, you had text too close to the cutline, or you forgot to give it a final proofread and there's a misspelling — that's why it's so important to get a proof.
Hard copy proofs can add expense to your printing budget and delay project finished time. While large runs and big projects such as catalogs and booklets should always be proofed, hard copies can burden budgets for short runs and small projects that need quick turnaround. Enter the online proof, an electronic version that lets you ensure all of your text, images, graphics and layout are in tip-top shape and ready for printing. In fact, the only difference between an online proof and a hard copy proof is that you can't feel the texture of the paper or see how the ink color looks on the paper. In most cases, especially for postcards, flyers, brochures, posters, stickers and business cards, you do not need to hold a proof — only to see it.
Let's say a client needs a postcard designed and printed in three days' time. You'd be hard-pressed to accomplish this feat with traditional proofing methods. Even if you could have the design completed within one day, it would take another day to print it and an expensive rush job to get the proof to you in enough time to make any revisions. This doesn't even take into account the time it would take to print the actual job and have your clients' postcards delivered. If you were to get an online proof instead, you could check it the very day you upload the artwork file, request same-day printing and overnight shipping — thereby meeting your deadline with confidence that the finished piece will display your design brilliantly. What's more, you can send the online proof directly to your client via e-mail or download, streamlining the process and getting instantaneous approval to go ahead with printing. In this manner, you eliminate the cost of postage or time and gasoline from trips for face-to-face meetings. As technologies evolve, print media and online media are merging partnerships that boost business productivity and streamline the design process. Online proofing for printed products is a shining example of how two services compliment each other by saving time and money while part of a successful effort to drive returns on investments.