Online Printing Companies: Pros and Cons
The recent advances in computer and printing technology and software means that there’s now a whole host of online printing companies offering to turn your design into printed material in super-fast time and without ever meeting or speaking on the phone.
But how do online printing companies work and how do they stack up against their more traditional counterparts?
How Do Online Printing Companies Work?
In a nutshell, an online printing company will have developed a sophisticated website that links up directly with their publishing software.
The purchasing process typically works like this:
- You browse through the range of available options, selecting those which match your requirements
- You add these products to your basket
- You check out and register – this step also involves uploading the files that you want printed. Acceptable filetypes usually include PDFs, JPEGs, QuarkExpress, Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, Publisher, InDesign, Word, Powerpoint and Corel
- The file that you upload does not have to be print ready i.e. it does not need to include bleed and crop marks. These will be added later by the printers.
- Your payment is processed
- You are sent a PDF ‘proof’ (a document which shows exactly how your printed article will look) either by email for viewing on-screen or by post
- You will have the opportunity to point up errors before approving the proof for printing: either by email or through the website
- Once approval is granted the job is completed and the finished printed material delivered as specified
The details, such as how your design is sent and how the proof is delivered, might vary from company to company but the above breakdown is roughly right for most online printing companies.
How Do Online Printing Companies Compare to Traditional Printers?
There are both positive and negative aspects to choosing an online printing company over a traditional print house.
- Pros: Speed. The turnaround time is faster than with a traditional print company. Your initial order can be completed in a matter of seconds – especially if you’re already registered on the site. The print work is then completed and delivered by an industrial scale operation so your job is rarely waiting in a queue. Most online printing companies offer guaranteed turnaround times.
- Cons: Limited customer service. You won’t get any consultation with an online printing company which may be essential if you’re getting stuff printed for the first time or have an unusual job to order. Flexibility is also limited as custom print jobs are hard to put through an online ordering system.
In conclusion, the appropriateness of an online printing company largely depends on the size and type of job. For smaller or very standardised jobs they’re quick and efficient whereas for large, important or highly customised jobs you’ll probably be better off with the personal touch of a traditional printing firm.