What information do you look for from a printer's website when researching a print vendor?
I'm conducting research on behalf of a printer who is building a new website. We'd like to identify the types (pieces) of information you (graphic designers, agencies and all other print buyers) look for on a printer's website when selecting a print vendor.
— What type of company information? Is it management and key employee bios? Equipment list? Company history? Manufacturing certifications like ISO 9000? et cetera.
— Services offered?
— Photos of the plant and employees?
— Blog? What type of articles would you like to see?
Is there any other information you want?
Machines and equipment, In-house facilities and list of clients (jobs handled) are the foremost information to that the client would look for.
The professional print companies I have used, when working for a design team for a corporation, have always been local. It's very important to be able to visit the facility, deal with the employees face to face, and of course their equipment. Being able to physically show your printer what you want as a finished product is key. I spent a lot of time creating comps on our Xerox machines and then driving to the shop to show the printers what I want. As a designer, it's really important to be able to show them exactly what I expect as the end product. I also liked using a print shop that had multiple capabilities that could cater to all of the companies needs, from simple digital printing, to four color process, to collating, folding, and cutting capabilities, to 3D printing, large format printing (banners, posters), various mediums like large selection of papers, poster boards, fabrics and vinyls, to outsourcing to specialty vendors for promotional items, including screen printing shops, embroidery companies, or even wood working or metal shops with CNC machines, if they don't have the capabilities in-house. This was key because if they can cater to all my needs, I can develop a real relationship with them by using them for types of projects. Having that relationship ensures my jobs will get done on time, in budget and they will be available to make any edits I made need too make during the creation of the product. So flexibility, locale and capabilities all matter when I selected a print company. And of course, a wonderful team of employees willing to help you finish your product is also a must!
These qualities can be highlighted on a website by showing photos of the facility and highlighting all the capabilities they offer. A map and the specific location also helps so you can meet face to face. Its also very important to see a portfolio of products, so you can see the various capabilities and quality of their work. There should also be a list of companies they serve and a list of outsourced vendors they use. Also, they should have a website that's easy to navigate and use and includes a sophisticated file upload area that can accommodate large file sizes. This is a must so the files can get to the printer as fast as possible, since there are always pressing deadlines and file sizes for graphics are huge and usually can't be emailed. One last suggestion is for the website to promote communication via phone and email. The employees need to be available not only to email but to talk so jobs get done correctly. So highlighting their customer service qualities is great. But customer service is hard to convey, it really can only be experienced.
Hope this all helps!
All of the information on bios, management is good, but not nearly as important as WHAT TYPE of printing can they do, turn around times, what digital formats they accept online and history with references. Their portfolio comes into play here as well. As far as graphic designers, I have found someone like thebutterflyherder.com who specializes in that is far better than a newbie on staff of a printer. Any printer with an established designer on staff may break your budget. A blog would be excellent and keep your prospects both interested and make your life easier if you offered tips, tricks, and advice on formatting, color matching, timetables, proofing and the like. Many clients-especially newbies-aren't well versed in some crucial details: heading off problems before they exist will make life easier for both parties.