Doing It Right: Effective Web-to-Print Integration
Last week, we discussed the game-changing W2P feature of Photoshop template support. In this article, we explore the challenges of W2P integration and how the flexibility of new W2P technologies allow them to fit into any workflow.
Web-to-print is as exciting an industry innovation as any other in print’s long history. As W2P adoption steadily increases, we are taking a look at three areas where this technology can completely transform the way the average printer does business. Support for Photoshop templates drastically reduces the learning curve, flexible software features allow for effective integration into any workflow, and vendors have never been more knowledgeable at tailoring their solutions for the unique needs of any printer. Join us weekly as we learn how these features make web-to-print more accessible than ever.
If you’d like to learn in-depth how new web-to-print technologies can change your business, read the white paper that inspired this series.
Running a busy print shop is kind of like conducting an orchestra. The seamless transition from customer to prepress to print production – all while avoiding errors along the way – is the flawless symphony you’re trying to achieve. Just as every instrument has its own job, which must be carried out with precision and correct timing, the same can be said for each step in the printing workflow. Whenever a new instrument is introduced, its impact on the entire piece must be considered. Adding web-to-print to your workflow is like adding an electric guitar to an orchestra – it can be great if it’s done right.
Web-to-print and workflow woes
The alternative is loud and unpleasant to listen to; that’s the sound of your shop bleeding money from incorrectly introducing web-to-print into the mix. Fantastic features such as the Photoshop support that Customer’s Canvas offers are enough to tantalize any designer that has ever had to recreate client files from scratch in a clumsy web-to-print editor, but if a W2P solution complicates things in another area of the workflow, these features are moot. We need perfect harmony, and a rigid or canned solution cannot meet the challenges that W2P integration throws at us.
As any busy printer is well aware, there are several different workflows that snake through the shop like busy highways at rush hour. The workflow behind a simple business card is much different from what it takes to make a photo book. Your website has to “know” what products your customers want to order and lead them through the relevant workflows. Additionally, as your business grows and changes, so do the necessary requirements of your W2P technology. It needs to be flexible and adaptable, or what begins as a sweet song for your business can yield some sour notes later on. This extends from the ordering workflow to print production, as the web-to-print software needs to play nicely together with the printing equipment in generating compatible files.
While these obstacles need to be carefully considered, they shouldn’t scare you away from making the switch to web-to-print. With the robust features that new W2P technologies like Customer’s Canvas bring to the table, you can have that bold new sound without disturbing the other instruments at work.
Flexible W2P technology fits into any workflow
Let’s say that you’ve got 50 products available in your online storefront. While some may be very similar, that’s still 50 different workflows from customer to finished product. Moreover, this isn’t your everyday Amazon-esque storefront where customers are simply adding a pre-made product to their cart and paying for it. Customers buying through a web-to-print portal want to have a hands-on experience to varying degrees, whether it’s choosing from premade templates or using their own custom design. Only the newest third-party ready-to-use W2P toolkits have the flexibility to enable customers to do this without missing a beat. This generation of evolved web-to-print is brimming with powerful API features that allow this collection of sophisticated workflows to exist on any website or platform.
While flexibility is important at the onset, adaptability is equally so down the road. Part of running a business is changing things up and testing new ideas to try and stay competitive. Especially with electronic storefronts, companies need to engage in A/B testing to see how different ordering workflows compare to each other. Any web-to-print vendor worth its salt knows this and makes sure that the user interface of their product is easily customizable so that these changes are relatively painless.
Learn more on how new web-to-print technologies have never been easier to integrate into existing workflows.
In our tiresome analogy, we can think of the web-to-print section of the workflow as our composer. It needs to create the sheet music for our instruments – the print production workflow – to read and play without making a mistake. If the instrument reads a bad note, it’s the composer’s fault for putting it there. Today’s web-to-print can reliably write a masterpiece for every job, creating PDF/X-4 files with accurate color management and true CMYK output. All of the complicated pre-processing steps are carried out precisely by the software, which results in a flawless performance once the order is fulfilled by the printing technology.
W2P integration has never been easier
If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. When it comes to a finely tuned workflow, of which the slightest careless change can result in absolute mayhem, the old adage is an understandable stance to take as a business owner. Why settle for something that “just works”? Leave your workflow woes at the door and embrace a solution that’s flexible enough to streamline multiple product pathways, adaptable enough to make significant adjustments on the fly, and powerful enough to produce precise, print-ready files for your equipment.
New web-to-print technologies like Customer’s Canvas are pushing the envelope by offering a solution that was once only available to the big players out there. Now, any shop can effectively integrate these tools into their existing workflows without worrying about reinventing the wheel in the process. This white paper is a must-read for any print business owner that’s ready to upgrade from a string quartet to a complete symphony of their own.
This is Part 2 of the 3-part ‘Web-to-Print Evolved’ series. Check back next week for our final installment as we see what W2P vendors are doing to stand firmly behind their products.