4 min read

How to properly choose a web to print online editor

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As you may know if you’re reading this article, there are many different web to print online designers on the market today. It’s relatively simple to make a web2print editor look effective in a staged demo, and it may even appear to do its job well but be warned; choosing the wrong tool can be very expensive.

Just imagine this scene; you attend a slick demonstration, you are impressed with the features, decide to invest several thousand dollars and then you realize that it takes several hours to create a single template, or even worse you get charged a setup fee each time you need to create a template.

Often you wouldn’t deem output from these html5 web to print editors as print ready; colors you use regularly are not supported, type is blurry because vector graphics are not supported and the text looks blurry. You can only have one style or text size within a text box etc.

The list of potential issues is endless and each of them can cause enormous delays, monetary losses and even worse - the loss of clients.

When considering a web-to-print editor to invest in, make sure your potential provider isn’t sidestepping any of these questions. 

Can you show me the typical template setup process?

If the web to print template setup process is either time intensive, difficult or both, then there is going to be a substantial hidden expense to utilizing this tool; you are going to require a dedicated member of your team who must first take the time to become proficient at a complicated, convoluted template setup process, and then spend hours setting up templates.

If you’re seeing a web to print online editor demo and the rep cannot answer simple questions on the template setup process, or are inflexible when it comes to covering template setup then be wary; they’re often showing you an ideal scenario, and are doing their best not to preview the pain you would endure if you tried to set up templates for real business clients.

These companies are hiding that you often need to learn how to code to get to an acceptable level of end user experience, and they are more interested in an expensive per template, per revision setup fee for getting your B2B templates in front of your customers.

Do your online editable templates support spot, process and PMS colors?

Matching brand guidelines and color consistency is of utmost importance to large corporate clients. If you have a variety of templates that use these colors, then you have to make sure that your web to print online editor also supports them.

Does your template editor support vector graphics?

Having blurry text and images in your PDF output is not going to work in a business setting. If your editor doesn’t support both vector and raster graphics, then you can expect to be burdened with “print ready” files that are not worth printing.

How much control over typography does your editor allow?

Constructing and adhering to brand guidelines can often mean working closely with your clients on being consistent with their typography. It’s not unusual to have an InDesign template with several text frames which each contain multiple different fonts and text styles.

Make sure that the template editor you choose allows multiple styles and fonts within a single text frame. We’ve seen several supposedly modern web to print html5 editor demos claiming to give you a lot of control over your text, when in reality you would need to completely change the way you thought about typography just to get close to a reproduction.

Often you’d have to reinvent how you layout something as simple as a business card, and create several different individually styled text frames just to get close to reproducing the correct output. All this before a client has even attempted to make a change!

Make sure that text behaves in the browser just how it does in the tool you originally used to create that template. 

How does your editor handle user entered text that’s too long or omitted?

Many edge cases in B2B templates involve a client entering text that’s either too long, or omitted. You’ll need text to react to user input; to reflow, realign, include text before or after or reduce in size. Often getting behavior that your user is expecting can involve complicated coding that nobody can expect their designers to be proficient at.

Do you want user text to clip, wrap, or automatically scale when it’s too long? Do you want text to scale to fit on the same line it was on originally, or do you want all the text within the frame to shrink too?

These rules can sound complicated, but design teams deal with them often, and a good web to print editor will make sure these options are easy to implement.

How much control over PDF output does your editor allow?

Often you’ll want to show your client guidelines, safe zones and cut lines when they’re editing in the browser, and have these completely removed when they choose to view a preview proof.

There are also a variety of scenarios where you’ll only need to imprint new information on a master, and will need a print ready file that doesn’t contain the majority of what your client sees when they’re designing or proofing.

Often your vendor will require you to upload each page as its own individual PDF. Do you have to do this manually?

The more your editor requires you to touch the “print ready” files it gives you, the less print ready they are. Make sure you have the control over the print ready files that you require for your business.

Does your template editor give live updates and PDF proofs?

Editors where you fill in a form, press a button, wait 15 seconds and then see your updates are completely out of style. B2B clients want to edit in an environment where they’re getting immediate feedback on what their edits look like, and get a PDF proof they can share with whomever needs to see it.

Does your template editor allow you to control how a user can edit?

As we discussed earlier, adhering to brand guidelines is important to corporate clients, so how would you deal with a scenario where purchasers are allowed limited freedom of certain parts of the template?

Often web to print designers will be all or nothing when it comes to customization options; you either have a form base input, or your client can do whatever the tool can accomplish, with often disastrous results.

You’ll want to have complete and granular control over what your end users can do; ensuring you can give the ability to emphasize certain specific pieces of text, while restricting their ability to change styling on text on other text with stricter rules.

You can find out more about our web to print online editor here

Not sure if you really need an online design tool? Check out our article here

To see a performant and practical web to print design tool in action, book a demo with one of our web to print specialists today!


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