How many proofs should I show a client?

Whether it’s a logo for rebranding, a brochure for a new product line, or a wireframe for a website, presenting the right number of proofs can move the design process along and result in a final design that makes everyone happy.

There was a time when it was common for designers to show clients a lot of proofs. This is great for in-house development at larger design firms and for independent designers to improve their craft. However, when it comes to presenting proofs to businesses for approval, less is more.

Less is more

Filecamp is a file sharing platform that bridges the gap between creative professionals and businesses. We want everyone to be happy, and we’ve spoken to designers and businesses to learn what works best for their needs in the creative process.

Many companies, large and small, use similar methods when working with outside vendors. Businesses go through what’s considered a procurement process. During this process a businessperson will evaluate three or more outside vendors and request bids for a project.

When collaborating on a design project, it’s helpful to keep this procurement process in mind. Perhaps designers want to show their range of creativity by providing dozens of proofs for a design. However, it’s best to keep the expectations of the business in mind.


Businesses expect an independent designer or design firm to have the expertise to provide a limited set of options to choose from. Businesses have the expectation that their vendors, creative and otherwise, will rule out any options that won’t work and provide the best set of options in a limited number, three to five at the most.

[…] provide the best set of options in a
limited number, three to five at the most.

This allows the businessperson to make a decision more efficiently and move the design process along to approval. When a designer presents too many proofs to a businessperson, this can be overwhelming and result in a slower and more frustrating design process for both parties.

Many businesses would prefer that you spend more time understanding their audience, and apply this knowledge to limit the number of design concepts you provide.

Investing time in understanding a business and its audience is often more worthwhile than creating another 10 variations of a particular design concept. During the design process, this understanding allows you to reply to questions and comments about the design with answers that speak directly to the business and its audience.

More and more designers are coming to rely on online collaboration and file sharing tools. At Filecamp, we love making it easier for designers and businesses to collaborate. We offer a ton of storage and other options so you can upload different versions of a file until everyone is happy.

However, the point of this post is that less is more — providing three to five high resolution proofs of an initial design is better than providing dozens of variations on a concept.

Businesses appreciate when designers understand the way that they operate, including typical procurement processes. In later posts we’ll be looking at ways that businesses can understand the creative process of designers better. When everyone has a better understanding of each other’s approach, true collaboration can take place, and the final design is better as a result.

NOTICE: Filecamp is an online file management tool that helps designers and businesses collaborate on creative projects and maintain brand assets. Designers and creative directors frequently use our platform to provide proofs to clients. Businesses can review and comment on the proofs online with Filecamp, which helps everyone achieve a final design sooner.

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