Choosing your software for photo products is the most important software decision you will make when starting or running a business connected to photo books, photo calendars, etc. It’s the tool you and your team will depend on and your customers will use to design their projects. An optimal software package can help you improve customer satisfaction, broaden your offering, expand into other markets, and gain new profits.
I can’t tell you what the best digital press for photo products is, but I can make your life a little bit easier by advising you on what to look for when choosing software. Following these guidelines will improve the success of your selection.
What in particular to look for when choosing an online photo products software?
Many people have little to no training in the use of an online editor to create photo products. The editor should satisfy experienced users without frightening first-time users.
Most people are first attracted by the looks of the software before they get interested in finding and testing the most advanced features the software offers. You have to convince your customers to use your software with pleasure and lead them through the whole process.
A perfect editor should be eye-catching, but without the distractions of bright colors in the background. Vivid and contrasting colors should be used only on call-to-action buttons, like “Add photos”, “Order” etc. Toolbars should be visibly cut off from the work area and the iconography must be clear and understandable to the user.
The biggest challenge is to convert the process of designing into a simple 15 to 20 minutes of placing an online order in a few clicks. This is not easy. Users tend to spend hours on photo book design. One of the longest photobook design processes was constant work lasting over a week.
One noticeable attribute of the photo products software is its graphics and interface organization. The well-designed organization won’t discourage some hesitant users from getting into the design process. An online editor with a simple design, uncluttered layout, and clear labels and buttons can make it easier for beginners to create photobooks, photo calendars, and other personalized products. All functionalities should be efficiently organized. This will make it easy to create a project and to find the buttons and other options needed while designing. The ultimate goal is to convert your customers into buyers.
Very few features should be visible at the beginning of the design process. Functionalities should appear contextually, only when they are needed. A user-friendly online editor should lead users through the design process and guide them down an educational path to make the whole process fun and easy.
The first glance at the editor is the most important. Customers can’t be overwhelmed by the number of visible options. Initial steps should be clear and the more complex functionalities should be visible in contextual menus.
The perfect editor should have clear and well-structured functionalities. They should be divided into three levels:
• Always visible
• Contextual menu level 1
• Contextual menu level 2
Let me give you an example. In the Printbox editor the most important component is the customer’s picture. To easily add a picture, we have structured this particular functionality (adding a picture) in the following way:
• Always visible – adding a picture button
• Contextual menu level 1 – the most important image operations, like zoom, crop, rotate
• Contextual menu level 2 – advanced image operations, like frames, masks and effects.
~ Michał Czaicki – Printbox CEO.
The back office
It is easy to focus on your website’s editing features and appearance. Without a doubt, the whole front end is the most important part of your business, as it needs to work well to allow your visitors to find and purchase what they are looking for.
However, the back end also needs some attention. A well-designed and intuitive website will mean that your customers get better customer service and your staff are happier. After all, it is you and your team who will be running the system, so it should be easy and intuitive to manage. On the other hand, photo products are not easy to handle in print (trim boxes, bleed boxes, safe area, etc.).
Testing online software: you can require training and periodic retraining so your team can work with it efficiently. In addition to initial training, ask for a retraining plan that will improve your team’s knowledge over time.
The complete package
If you want to start fast with your new personalized photo product business, look for the turnkey solution. The top priority for you is to get e-commerce, editor, and back office with hosting and servers. It should be a white label solution to allow you to run a shop on your domain with your branding. This requires little upfront capital investment and doesn’t require a large IT team to maintain the system.
If other companies are happy with the software, it is possible you’d be happy as well, so look for credentials and testimonials. If they are not your competitors, maybe you could directly ask them if they were pleased with the software and its support. Ask: “If you were making the same software decision today, what would you do differently? Would you choose the same software provider?”
Future focused solution
Always look for the solutions focused on the future, not just the present. Look to your needs on the horizon. Some companies that have on the market for a while are slowed by their choices of technology and process. Sometimes they have ceased to develop their systems and are doing little more than maintenance. On the other hand, startups can’t be reliable, as they are only just starting. Get the perfect balance and stay up with current technologies.
Choosing a long-term relationship with a software provider will have a great impact on your business for years to come. Gaining confidence in this investment is a decision you will never regret.
Remember that the ultimate goal is to offer the best possible online customer experience of photo product design. Analyzing your needs and expectations at the beginning of the search will guide you through the decision-making process.