Business Cards, Printed Using an Online Printer

July 7, 2009 | Branding, Design Basics, Startups

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This is part 2 in the series about the pros and cons of online printing. Read the first part.

Several months ago, I redesigned the Visible Logic web site. We reorganized and updated the content of the site and at the same time, introduced a new tagline. While the overall branding was not new, we made some adjustments and freshened things up a bit. You can read more about the process in this newsletter archive. After doing that, I decided that our business cards really should be updated too, to reflect these changes.

As you may imagine, a graphic designer designing the business cards for their own company is a painful and prolonged production. We’re our own worst client. So, I hemmed and mulled and tinkered and got a design I sort of liked. I really needed new cards, and really needed to order cards for a designer on staff, so I decided to print some online just to see how they look.

My experiment

This also became an experiment for me to see how I felt about the quality of the printing.

Old Visible Logic card, printed one color.

Old Visible Logic card, printed one color.

In the past, my business cards were printed one color on a very thick, bright white, uncoated card stock. The new design I envisioned was four-color. One reason I even let my creativity flow in this direction is because I knew that there are low-cost online printing services available. A few years ago this was not true and that is why my identity was long-ago been built on a one-color design.

While I researched the online options, I was particularly interested in trying to find a thick, non-glossy paper. I chose PsPrint because they had a thick-ish matte paper. I knew it would not be as thick as my old cards, and I knew it was a coated paper even though it was a matte paper.

What we ordered

New, four color business card

New, four color business card

I needed to order two sets of cards, some for myself and a smaller quantity for DeAnne McCaslin a junior designer in the studio. This was ideal for my experiment because the smaller quantity would be printed digitally and the larger would be printed offset (both from the same online source). The two files that were sent were identical except for the specifics of the name and contact info.

The process

One of the “cons” of online printing is that it’s got a “self serve” mentality to it. Unlike when you send a file to a reputable, local printer, no one is really checking to see if it’s set up correctly. They provide lots of guidelines, but basically if you set it up wrong, you lose.

Since I’m a design professional, I wasn’t worried. However, I do think that anyone trying the  DIY route may likely compromise the quality of their cards before they even hit the presses. This is because they do not have the professional tools to begin with, or they do not set up the files as ideally as they can be.

Having said all that, I designed my cards using Adobe Illustrator, worked with the printer’s template file, and uploaded an eps file.

Proofing is not included

At PsPrint, you are able to review your file online before submitting it, but an actual proof is not included. To receive a proof costs extra in both time and money. So I skipped the proof. The online sample looked fine, but this is nothing like being presented with a high quality, contract quality proof, which would be part of the deal with a traditional offset print job.

Read the next post to see how the cards turned out.

4 comments

  1. Mike Maddaloni - The Hot Iron | July 10, 2009 at 11:14 am

    My business cards were printed by an online printer. The back of the card is solid blue with white letters, and you can see some streaking that almost looks like grill marks! Also, the blue on the front doesn’t exactly match the blue on the back.

    Some people may say, “well, who cares?” As many of us go by first impressions, some may look at your card – which may be the only physicality of your business – and make a judgment about doing business with you or not!

    mp/m

  2. Emily Brackett | July 10, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Mike, Thanks for your comment. I remember when I saw your card (!). Whenever I see a solid color I see how well it’s printed. Things like large, solid color blocks are hard to do well.

    I don’t know if your card was printed digitally or offset. Do you know?

    Generally, digital printing does not deal well with large areas like that. It will look streaky and banded. Even on a traditional offset press, there can be color variances. But that is where an experienced CSR will tell you before going on press what the potential problems might be. Then, they can give you options like: printing with a 2nd hit of color, or adjusting the design. You just don’t get that service or expertise when you do it yourself online.

Trackbacks

  1. News Business Cards, Printed Using an Online Printer | Web 2.0 Designer
  2. The Pros and Cons of Online Printing Sources | Visible Logic: Design Advances Success

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