What are online printing services?
Twenty years ago, online printing services changed the world by making it easy to upload photos or design business cards online and have them custom-printed and sent straight to your home or office. Today, customers can design pillows, cups and wall decorations from their favorite photos; print trade show banners, brochures and menus; and order personalized greeting cards and wedding invitations.
Additionally, due to the batch order processing and printing technology that most online printing services use, these products are much more affordable than they once were when the only option was to order directly from walk-in print shops or vanity gift makers.
How does online printing work?
Most online printing services allow complete beginners to design and order just about any printing product. Professionals in need of business cards, for example, can start with pre-designed templates and personalize them by uploading a logo or even a full pre-designed design to the website.
From there, users can preview the final design and adjust as needed and select the size, paper, type of finish, and any other special effects. Most services allow the customer to preview the final design online and some will even ship a free sample before they complete the order.
Each department can guide users through the process of uploading images that will print well and also offers professional design support and assistance as needed. Users can download images from their phones, computers or even social media accounts and print them in crisp, rich colors.
How long does online printing take?
Due to the largely automated process and batch printing that most online printers use, customers can expect their designs to be printed and shipped in just a few days for simple products like photo prints. and business cards, or up to two weeks for more complex items like large canvas prints and uniquely shaped business cards and invitations.
What are the expected costs of online printing services?
The cost of online printing can vary widely by product and company and is often based on quality. Vistaprint charges only $ 20 for 500 standard business cards, while MOO charges the same price for only 50 cards.
Most services try to stay cheaper than physical printers because they have to add shipping costs to every order. Snapfish, for example, only charges $ 0.09 for a 4×6.
Shipping prices also vary widely depending on the supplier. Vistaprint, for example, charges $ 8.99 for four to six day shipping for orders between $ 15.01 and $ 35.00, while MOO charges $ 15.75 for six day shipping for orders up to $ 35.00. ‘at $ 19.99. While none of the services we reviewed offer free shipping as standard, most regularly have specials and offers that include free shipping.
How we choose the best online printing services
We reviewed over two dozen online printing services for this review. We first looked at the providers who offered the widest range of services, the best quality, and the best price for overall quality. Next, we looked at the top services in each category and picked the best one based on the ease of use, range and quality of their products, and overall price.
Ultimately, we found that most of the best online printers balance price and quality quite well, with a few offering better quality printing products, which is understandable for higher prices. Most have worked hard to make designing and ordering products easier for non-designers, and many have offered some sort of expedited shipping to help meet last-minute orders.