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, mugs, and wall art from their favorite photos; print banners, brochures and trade show 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 print product. Professionals needing business cards, for example, can start with pre-made templates and customize them by uploading a logo or even a complete pre-made design to the website.
From there, users can preview the final design and adjust as needed and select 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 send a free sample before finalizing the order.
Each service can guide users through the process of uploading images that will print well and also offer professional design support and assistance if needed. Users can upload images from their phones, computers, or even social media accounts and have them printed 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 only charges $22 for 500 standard business cards, while MOO charges about the same price for just 50 cards.
Most services try to stay cheaper than physical printers because they have to add shipping to every order. Snapfish, for example, only charges $0.12 for a 4×6.
Shipping prices also vary widely depending on the provider. Vistaprint, for example, charges $8.99 for four-to-six-day shipping on orders between $15.01 and $35.00, while MOO charges $16.75 for six-day shipping on orders up to $20.00. at $19.99. While none of the services we reviewed offer free shipping as standard, most have specials and regular offers that include free shipping.
How We Choose the Best Online Printing Services
We looked at over two dozen online printing services for this review. We first looked at the providers that 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 based on ease of use, range and quality of their products, and overall price.
Ultimately, we’ve found that most of the best online printers balance price and quality quite well, with a few offering higher quality printing products at higher prices. Most have worked hard to make it easier for non-designers to design and order products, and many have offered some kind of expedited shipping to help fill last-minute orders.