Why we have no online personalisation system – and probably never will

I suppose I should start by explaining what exactly a web to print system is? Well a web to print system (in layman’s terms a personalisation or customisation system) is basically software that displays an online customiser on a product page where you (the customer) can personalise the product yourself with things such as text, photos, logos etc. These systems are quite popular on websites that provide more commonly printed items such as flyers, business cards & printed apparel such as vistaprint and spreadshirt.

An example spreadshirts web to print system

Now begs the questions, why do we not have one on our website for memorial cards? We get asked a lot about an online customiser, so much so that we have put serious consideration and quite a bit of time going over the pros and cons of it but in the end decided it was not for us for the following reasons:

Memorial Cards have a lot of text

Memorial cards are a lot more complex in design that what would typically be customised on a web to print site such as business cards, flyers, posters, t-shirts and other printed apparel. Usually with these items you have a logo, some text and maybe a background image.

Memorial cards on the other hand typically require a name, address, date of birth, date of death, age at death, a short verse and two long verses which are typically in different fonts to suit the design so have to be adjusted depending on the length of text for each line.

For a web to print system this means a lot of complex options and a lot of headaches for the customer designing the card especially if they are on a mobile device (which more and more people are).

Limited photo options

With a web to print system there is generally limited options for photos and photo positioning.

A lot of the photos we get sent to us for memorial cards require some level of manipulation and editing for them to fit correctly into the frame on the design, for example some photos may need the background extended so the photo can be positioned correctly, others may need distracting items removed from them & some require adjustment to things like the colour and brightness.

This is not possible with most web to print systems but even the systems that do offer some level of image editing tend to be quite slow & difficult to use and usually give sub optimal results for all but the best of photos.

Limited layout options

Although we have set out templates for the card designs you see on the website we very often change our layouts to suit a customers request for things like extra photos & verses etc. This would not be possible for most web to print systems leaving the customer with no option of changing the layout leaving them with no option other than to get a custom card designed at an extra cost.

Expensive to implement properly

Most out of the box web to print solutions are not suitable for memorial cards so that only leaves us with the option of having one custom built by a software development company.

Going down this route gets very expensive as we have a lot of card designs that have different layouts so require a different customiser interface for each one to ensure the customer can actually change the card properly. This also means ongoing maintenance costs and further expense for us to upload new designs or make changes to existing ones.

You deserve a graphic designer

A lot of businesses use web to print as a way of taking the graphic designer out of the process, fair enough this may be ok for things like business cards and flyers that have set out templates but memorial cards are more of a sincere and thoughtful product that deserve to have the eye of a professional overseeing the design.

When things like layout, text positioning & photo editing come into play it is much better to have an experienced eye designing designing with proper software and design tools rather than leaving the task to the customer to do on a mostly sub par website customiser.

Gary

Managing Director at Memorial Printworks Ltd
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