Web-to-print update

Web-to-print (or Web2Print) refers to the broad concept of completing a printing transaction online, whether it involves designing and editing a document or submitting and approving a job for print. The rise of digital printing and the ability to print one copy at a time has created a need for automation regarding the way in which files are submitted to a printer, as well as the need to manage a greater number of digital assets. Web-to-print is also an excellent way to automate routine jobs and reduce the number of small, tedious job entry tasks for your staff. The more the process of uploading and approving files is automated, the greater a company’s efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, profitability.

The key benefit of a web-to-print business model is that you can do business while you’re sleeping: 24/7/365. The fact that you have a tool that will process orders day or night can be a significant competitive advantage over traditional storefronts with traditional business hours. This technology also has the added benefit of offering a shorter turnaround time for jobs, especially when approved online. Web-to-print technology is quickly gaining popularity, as the tools and functionality of online portals are easier than ever for printers to set up and more user friendly than ever for customers to operate.

In this web-to-print update, let’s take a look at two unique companies: one that offers innovative web-to-print solutions and the other who capitalizes on the innovation of web-to-print technology as a core component of their business model.

CHILI Publish

CHILI Publish promotes itself as the “hottest online document editor” and is now in version 3.0. CHILI Publish allows businesses to offer a robust online document layout tool to their customers that transparently plugs into their existing web application so that customers never know that a third party application is being used. It employs a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor; therefore your customers don’t have to be expert designers to use the CHILI Publish platform. However, if they are expert designers they will appreciate the superior functionality of the interface.

Recently, at Graph Expo 2012 in Chicago, CHILI Publish announced that they will be partnering with Esko (a global supplier of integrated solutions for packaging) to enable their online document editor to be connected to Esko’s WebCenter packaging management platform. A new Adobe Illustrator plug-in for Esko WebCenter will allow users to open and edit their Illustrator document using CHILI Editor within Esko WebCenter online. All content changes that occur in CHILI Editor result in an update to the master Adobe Illustrator document. Unique 3D visualization and folding is another added feature in version 3.0, which is especially useful in packaging design applications. Watch the 3D folding video here: http://tinyurl.com/8pdmndd.

The benefits of employing the functionality of CHILI Publish to the current Esko WebCenter system are significant. One of the most important benefits is a faster time to market due to less time spent in the approval process. Time and cost savings in this area are paramount to the success of a packaging design project. Because the brand owner makes the changes directly to the design via the online portal, inefficiencies are removed, thereby reducing costly errors when adding or editing content (such as barcodes or nutritional facts, for example).

The new CHILI Publish online editing functionality in Esko’s WebCenter will be available through Esko channels by the end of 2012.

Photobook Canada

Photobook Canada is part of the larger Photobook Worldwide organization who manufactures custom photobooks for their clients. Whether it’s for a wedding, travel or corporate promotional book, customers can use the company’s web-to-print system to create distinctive, one-of-a-kind photobooks. Photobook Canada’s web-to-print software solution allows customers to have full creative control through their free downloadable “Photobook Designer” software. The intuitive interface allows for drag and drop functionality for pictures, as well as photo enhancement and editing features. Customers can also choose from the “Readybook Template” options if they want a more structured start. Once they have the perfect book, they can upload their design through Photobook Canada’s web-to-print interface.

Ping Tam, Operations Director at Photobook Canada, has a great deal of experience working with customer files submitted through their online system. She provided us with her insight regarding the user friendliness of the web-to-print system, as well as efficiencies gained in the production process.

“We offer customers a web-to-print software solution that bridges the gap between their photobook creations to our production facility. Customers browse our website to decide on which book they like from the variety of sizes and styles offered.”

Once the book is created and before going into production, Ping indicates that it is very uncommon for a customer to request hard copy proofs because most projects are typically one-off jobs.

“When using the design software, there is an option to view the pages as a proof slideshow at any stage of the design process. When placing the actual order, customers are asked to check a box that indicates that they have thoroughly reviewed their book. There is also a screen that flags customers if photos are of low resolution or have empty picture or text boxes. During the online ordering process, customers will confirm that the contents used in their file are approved and will be uploaded via the online uploading and ordering portal.”

Once the customer has uploaded their file through the web-to-print portal, the back-end software converts the photobook design into a PDF. They use JDF workflow automation tools to help streamline and simplify each job. Ping states that JDF automation is the key feature of the system, the one that their business could not live without.

“JDF automation is really big for us as it creates a stricter, more defined workflow for each file we receive, thus alleviating the team to take on additional tasks in the production process.”

In looking at the business from a larger standpoint, Ping adds that “because everything is done online, we are not limited to offering books locally in the Greater Toronto Area. We serve customers all over Canada and reach customers that we normally would not be able to without the web-to-print capabilities.”

Find out more about Photobook Canada at www.photobookcanada.com.

Many web-to-print companies are conducting business at the forefront of digital technology. Innovation is occurring both at the application provider level, as well as the print provider level. Unique online editing functionality, paired with intuitive interfaces and the opportunity for faster time to market, mean that web-to-print applications are on the rise. Forward-thinking companies will continue to use web-to-print applications at the core of their business models with great success.

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Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.