Sometimes as a printer, a fresh set of eyes isn’t enough... Many acknowledge proofing fatigue to be a legitimate threat to jobs getting done properly and on time.
However, until an obvious error either you or the client should have caught catches up to you instead, ending up on the final printed materials, it’s easy to dismiss proofing fatigue as something that would never happen on your watch.
What is Proofing Fatigue?
Proofing fatigue is what results from hours upon hours spent on the same document. We’re not even talking consecutive hours, but cumulative time spent reviewing the same packaging, for example.
You may not be physically tired, but, mentally, your eyes see the same thing, leading to careless mistakes that you otherwise wouldn’t miss.
"You Signed the Proofs"
Consider the following, though: You’ve just finished the third round of corrections from the client, you’ve lost two days on the schedule and deadlines have become that much tighter because the delivery date remains the same.
You’ve essentially been looking at what feels like nothing but the same job for days. In the end, you feel you’ve done your due diligence when you give the new changes a quick glance and disregard everything else you’ve spent so much time looking at before. Why should there be anything wrong there, you might think... even if your instincts tell you it would be better to go back and be more thorough.
The client is thinking the same thing and finally signs off and the job
moves into production. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry
about the back and forth anymore… for now anyway.
There’s still that feeling in the back of your mind that a quick glance through wasn’t enough and, bowing to the pressures to get things done today, you’ve only sacrificed larger headaches down the road for short-term peace of mind.
It shouldn’t be a surprise then when, a few weeks later, you get a call from the client letting you know there is an error. Sure enough, there’s the mistake right where the client said it would be, as clear as day. The job needs to be reprinted and the dance begins…
You tell the client: “You signed the proofs.”
The client responds: “You made the changes.”
This costs everyone time and money and might even become more expensive should a competitor take the opportunity to walk into the client’s office with a compelling argument as to why they should give them a try instead.
Delivering What the Client Is Looking for
When the pressure is on to deliver, it’s easy to miss the obvious, whether it's due to tight scheduling, clients making last-minute changes, or sales pushing to get the job done. That’s why it’s critical to take the time to get it right on one of the first rounds of feedback, with both the client and printer needing to work together, each making a point of thoroughly comparing the printer’s proof to the final PDF.
Alternatively, or even in addition, good quality control keeps the back and forth to a minimum and ensure no one finds unwanted surprises on the packaging once it’s too late. Especially not the end user.