As a graphic designer I constantly find myself in a position where I either have to recommend a print vendor or I have to use one for myself. There some specific things I look for in a relationship with a print vendor whether it’s for myself or for my clients.
Local Versus Online.
To be honest I typically choose online vendors rather than local vendors due to pricing on larger orders. The online vendors tend to be more competitive on overall pricing and budget is a consideration when you’re a small business. However there are instances where you need something done relatively quickly and there’s no choice but to go to a local vendor. That’s why it’s always good to be aware of what each of your local vendors has the offer and how reliable they can be on short notice. Regardless of whether you choose local or digital you need to know what the fastest turnaround time on your typical print project will be.
Can They Handle My Files?
As a designer I tend to work with Adobe programs usually Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign, it’s important that whatever print vendor I work with be able to handle native EPS files and print ready PDF documents. If a printer only works with JPEG’s or request them specifically as a preference typically I won’t work with them. I want my print files to be in the highest quality and I know what formats are necessary to accomplish this.
As a designer I also typically work on projects that require bleed. If the printer cannot handle files with bleed, then I also won’t work with them if I can help it unless for whatever reason it is the rare exception where the file does not have bleed and I need something done at the last minute.
Today something many companies neglect is customer service. Speed, price and convenience are all factors and they are great but if the customer service experience is lacking these things won’t be enough to earn someone’s business. Overall customer service is going to be the deciding factor on whether I continue to use a print vendor or whether I recommend them to a client or to a colleague.
The Quality of Work.
Quality work still trumps everything. It’s important to be in a position to judge the quality that a print vendor is going to provide you with. For this reason many print vendors whether they’re digital or local to you offer free samples to show the quality of work they are capable of. It’s important to collect as many of these as possible and compare the overall quality while considering the price and the options available to you. Not all print vendors will be able to offer the same type of services for print products. So having as many options and being able to make an informed decision about as many vendors as possible is in your best interest.
Brand loyalty is great but at the end of the day you still have a business to think of and you need to explore these options and you might need to use one vendor for very specific print materials and you might need to use a second vendor to cover other things that they can do better or with more affordability.
Whether you’re designer or you’re a small business or even a large company it’s important to consider the type of relationship you want to have with your vendors and the standard you want to set for the quality of your print materials. Hopefully this gives you some food for thought and will put you in a position to make informed decisions about your print needs.
Roberto Blake is a Graphic Designer who runs his own one man Design Studio, focusing on Brand Development and Advertising. Roberto has experience in design for print, web and multimedia and has worked on out of home campaigns including billboards featured in Times Square. He is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News From The Printerverse, and a frequent participant at #PrintChat on Twitter. He is also a contributor for publications such as Print Magazine and How Design and has had work featured in Advanced Photoshop Magazine. Roberto is extremely active in social media, producing multiple YouTube videos each week to assist designers and other creative professionals through advice and tutorials.