Memorial Cards online ordering site launched – case study
One of the bigger projects I have been involved in recently is Memorial Printers website. The site allows to order Memorial Cards, Acknowledgement Cards and other printed memorial products online. It is based on a custom built print presonalisation and online proofing system.
There are good few websites in Ireland that let their customers order memorial cards online. Most of them sell template based designs that are personalised by designers after the order has been placed. The customers can’t see how their card is going to look like until they are emailed a proof. Often they also have to supply photos and text separately by email or through a variety of forms – a process that in some cases is not very transparent or sufficiently explained.
This approach generates delays and extra cost, as a designer is required to prepare each personalised memorial card for the customer.
Some websites do offer online personalisation systems with online proofing, but my client thought they are too complicated or give too little control and/or choice. My task was to strike the balance between ease of use and giving customers enough control to let them be creatively involved in producing their cards.
I noticed that while most of the memorial card sites offer a lot of designs, in many cases the only difference between the designs is background image or card heading that is used. Many of those could be easily groupped under one general layout with background/heading variations. Should this was done, design listings could offer much more variety without forcing customers to plough through countless pages of very similiar card designs.
The solution I produced is clean and addresses the problem in an elegant way. Most of the designs have alternative background options that can be viewed without leaving design listing pages. This allows to show only unique memorial card designs without filling the listing pages with very similiar cards that have just different backgrounds. See example card listing here.
The variations are generated automatically, so each time the designers add another background option it is available to all cards using this particular background set. This means that adding just one background option results in tens of new designs being instantly available – without cluttering product listing pages.
As the quality is a big concern, the system produces high quality, print ready pdf files with all text as vector objects. Online proofs are generated from the very file that will go to print to ensure that customers see exactly what they will get.
The system is built upon an existing ecommerce solution to ensure standard shopping experience that most of Interned users are accustomed to.
Creation of personalisable templates is very easy and any design software package can be used to create new memorial card designs. For trained designer the process of entering a new design to the system should take 15-20 minutes. The system allows to create very elaborate designs with custom selectable vector or bitmap objects, layers, transparency, object rotation, image cliping and masking, Pantone colours, custom fonts, uploadable images and many more features.
Nobody likes slow websites, so a number of steps has been taken to ensure snappy experience – a key to more orders being placed.
The site uses content delivery network to serve all static images and scripts – the process is automated, no action is needed on site’s owner part. Extensive caching and Virtual Private Server hosting are employed.
Memorial Printers’ site was real fun and rewarding challenge to work on. It certainly will take their business to another level. As it stands now it is likely to be the most technically advanced website of this sort in Irish memorial cards trade. In many areas it is surpassing capabilities of big print personalisation systems that cost an order of magnitude more to deploy and maintain.
Should you require an Ireland-based web developer with extensive print personalisation and e-commerce experience (who does not charge an arm and a leg), please do not hesitate to contact me.