3 Overlooked Web-to-Print Best Practices

When you think about Web-to-print best practices, what do you think of? Here are three less discussed issues that will help you get the most out of your investment (or help you help your customers get the most out of theirs).
1. Drive functionality by how end users will access and use the system, not by IT.
It’s about users, not technology. If the document portal is not user friendly, if it doesn’t contain the documents people are going to use most, if it doesn’t let people order the way they are most comfortable, the system isn’t going to get used. It’s that simple.
Focus on what the users need, which documents they access most, and how they will interact with the system. For example, if it will be used by salespeople on the road, and if those salespeople will be ordering from their iPads, the system cannot use Flash. Use Flash on the portal and it will be a non-performer from the start.
Do focus groups. Get input. Let people take it out for a test drive. Makes sure this is a system that actually meets the needs of the people who will be using it.
2. Web-to-print needs to be driven from the top.
Web-to-print is a culture change, not a technology change. Done right, it affects everything from invoicing to marketing. This isn’t something that can be delegated, then walked away from.
Web-to-print is a fundamental change in how a company interacts with its stakeholders. Therefore, success requires sustained business leadership that starts at the top. If it doesn’t start at the top, it’s a change in name only.
One printer I have worked with for years feels so strongly about this issue that, without upper level management support and a dedicated Web-to-print “champion” inside the company who has been tasked with and is committed to this role, he will not keep the portal live. He will simply shut it down.
3. Think “content management,” not print management.
Shops who get strong user buy-in to their document portals listen — really listen — to what their users need. More and more, this is cross-channel marketing solution in which the same content is used in print, email, and other channels.
I listened to a webinar recently in which the presenters (from large, nationally known brand marketers) both said they had not even considered Web-to-print previously because it was too print-centric. Their needs are much broader, and until it was presented as a content management system, not a print management system, Web-to-print was irrelevant to them. Only 50% of the content output from the system is print.
That’s a powerful message. Are you listening?

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