The Creative Approach To Web To Print

May 14th, 2015 - Posted by Christine Connors, Business Support Manager

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The task of preparing, building and maintaining web to print storefronts and templates often falls into the hands of creative staff. Graphic designer's existing knowledge of the print process, publishing programs and brand guidelines make them the perfect candidate to implement a web to print site.

Increasingly designers are asked to expand their skills to cover a range of mediums. Some creatives may wince at the thought of having to learn new software and may even worry that a web to print system will eventually make their job redundant. For those that have an interest in print and web design, web to print perfectly merges both worlds into a single application and provides an exciting opportunity to extent their portfolio even further.

As we have seen in http://www.red-tie.com/blog/ten-minute-webstore-and-template, it is easy to get a site and templates up and running very quickly. RedTie Template (RTT) has a logical navigation and ordering process by default, but there are areas of the site that allow for expansion and customisation with just a little knowledge of html and/or javascript. For those keen to refine the look and feel of the site it is also possible to update colours, banners and add a new library of graphics.

Clear communication is central to all good design, so careful consideration should be given to your client and the end user's needs. Not all end users are web savvy and may need some guidance. Written help guides can be added to several areas of the site. In some cases info graphics do an even better job.

Template creation is similar to preparing artwork in programs such as Illustrator or InDesign. Adding variable text and image elements is straight forward, but more complicated layouts require a good understanding of RTT’s features and limitations. A proficient web to print builder is capable of creating templates that are intuitive for the end user, and press ready for the production team.

B2B print stores help to maintain the consistency and quality of the brands that designers strive to preserve. Templates can be completely locked down so that end users can’t stray from the brand guidelines. These projects generally require minimal input from the customers. Using built-in features such as global and dynamic fields can help the users move quickly through ordering process.

Templates built for the B2C market usually offer customers a little more creative freedom. B2C products often need to be developed from scratch, so allow the design team to get creative. Adding flexible image libraries, fonts, font colours and font sizes to the template gives end users a stronger sense of ownership. To avoid over complicating the product, choices can be restricted to options that enhance and compliment the design.

Good design is not just limited to the products offered on a site. Good design should apply to the content, style and functionality of the storefront. Taking a little extra time to create a better user experience leads to happier customers and repeat business.

Putting customers in control of ordering, approving and paying for their products saves an enormous amount of time in what would otherwise be a repetitive artworking and administrative task. Of course not all print jobs can be fulfilled with online templates, but the time saved by a well functioning web to print storefront can be used to focus on bespoke projects and other creative pursuits.

With newfound web to print abilities, the creative team may even be tempted to develop a B2C site of their own interest.