Why Use Online Printing Services?
The top performers in our review are NextDayFlyers, the Gold Award winner; 4over4, the Silver Award winner; and Uprinting, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a service to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these online print shops.
Your current printer probably works well for small jobs, like simple documents and spreadsheets. However, most home and office printers cannot print business cards, postcards, invitations and brochures. They also lack the ability to print on card stock or apply a glossy finish to your products. To get these custom-made items, you need to employ one of the best online printing services.
The best online printers offer a range of products you can't create yourself: posters, calendars, flyers, stickers, invitations and much more. Each of these services allow you to craft a printing job that fits your specific needs.
Besides product selection, the best online printing services also make it as easy as possible to design and order your item by offering preprogrammed templates, online product designers as well as the ability to easily import graphics like your business' logo. In addition, uploading your final design and ordering your product is straightforward, convenient and takes just a few minutes.
How It Works
All of the services we reviewed display their product categories prominently on their websites. Simply browse through the selection to see if they have the item you want. Once you find what you're looking for, you have the option to design your product, whether you use a template, an online designer or simply upload a premade graphic.
When you upload your file, you can request a proof to make sure your project looks exactly the way you want it to. When you approve the proof, the service will walk you through the ordering process to get your creation into your hands.
Key Attributes of the Best Online Printing Services
Almost all of the online printing companies we reviewed offer a design interface or platform as well as one or more design tools to help you create a customized product or promotional item.
Designers are essentially a blank canvas where you can add text and graphics to your product. You're in complete control over the look and feel of your project. In most cases, anyone can use them with relative ease and without any prior graphic design experience. Nearly all of the online print shops that have designers feature them prominently, so you should have no problem finding them.
If designing a product from scratch doesn't appeal to you or you find it daunting, the best online printing companies offer templates you can customize directly in your web browser. These premade designs are great for products like business cards, flyers and posters. All you have to do is input the text and graphics into the template and you have a product tailor-made for you in just minutes.
Some online printers offer downloadable templates you can open with graphic design programs like Adobe Photoshop. This option is intended for more advanced users, and you'll need at least a basic understanding of graphic design to use these templates.
If you don't have graphic design skills and the templates just don't provide you with what you want, the best online print shops offer in-house design services that, for an extra fee, can work with you to craft a unique product.
The online printers on our lineup allow you to make dozens of items, from business cards to posters, flyers, calendars and much more. Some help you design and print uncommon items such as door hangers and tickets.
Other services can create yard signs and even unique gift wrap. Of course, not every service can do everything, but you should have no problem finding a service that prints what you need.
The best online printers give you a choice of special finishing options for your projects. You can choose between matte and glossy finishes for products like business cards, brochures, calendars.
For other projects, you should also be able to choose other options like lamination, collating and an aqueous or ultraviolet (UV) coating, which protects your documents from water and UV rays.
These options are important, because they allow you to get exactly what you want out of your printing job, plus they protect your documents against wear and tear so they last longer.
Help & Support
Getting your order right the first time is critical. The best online printing services not only provide customer and technical support via phone, email and live chat, they also actively communicate with you if there's a problem with your order or design.
Online Printing Services: What We Tested, What We Found
Ease of Use
For our review of the best online printers, we used each of the custom printing services featured on our lineup to design several products. We evaluated how intuitive the interface and workflow is; how easy the design tools are to learn and use; and how quickly you can find products, templates, and other design resources. Each service was given a grade from A to F based on this evaluation.
In evaluating the quality of each service, we ordered the same product from each online printer. When our order arrived, our reviewers compared the quality and clarity of the printed image, words and graphics. We also assessed the quality of the paper stock, finish and color. These evaluations resulted in a grade ranging from A to F.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
Once our evaluation of each online printing service was complete, we ranked each product. These online print shops took the top spots on our side-by-side comparison chart:
NextDayFlyers topped our review of the best online printing companies. Anyone, regardless of their design skills, can use the design platform and templates with relative ease. It has every feature and design tool we looked for. You can build a print job from scratch using their product designer, customize one of their online templates or download several templates for Photoshop. This service also lets you upload your own pre-made design, or you can use their in-house design team to achieve the look you want.
4over4 is another excellent online print shop. It has over 90 product categories to choose from. If you're looking for a specific product, there's a high probability you can find it here. This service isn't as easy to use as NextDayFlyers. The online designer and templates are more complex, but you should be able to get the hang of both without too many problems. The only thing this service lacks is an in-house design team that can help you make a truly unique product.
UPrinting rounds out the top tier. Like 4Over4, it offers a wide selection of products. With nearly 90 product categories, you'll likely find what you need. Its online design platform doesn't have as many tools as the other award winners, so getting what you want will be slightly more difficult. But again, it's nothing you shouldn't be able to learn. It also doesn't have any in-browser templates to make designing your project easier. But if you have the design skills, you can download templates for third-party graphic programs like Photoshop.
The best online printing services combine easy-to-use design tools, offer a wide selection of product choices and provide high-quality results. Our side-by-side comparison chart shows you exactly what each service has and doesn't have. Once you narrow down a list of potential printers, read our product reviews to learn more about our experience using the service. Also be sure to visit our learning center for informative articles about online printing services to help you make a more informed decision.