No clutter. No pop-ups. No up-sells. No cross-sells. No information overload. Back in December web-to-print business Printed Easy went live with a new-look customer-focused website that said ‘no’ to all those things, and many more of those annoying web ticks.
It formed a major part of a larger company restructure and rebrand that cost half a million pounds. “Modernising or rebranding the image of any business begins with a website,” says Printed Easy’s online director Paul Duffy. You can see his point: in this digital age that all-important first impression is almost invariably acquired online.
That is where you need to show off your company and the work it does. Furthermore, a good web design will give you one of the best returns on investment, insists Duffy. But it’s complex, highly nuanced work – anything but a mere tweaking of graphics, colours and pixels.
Duffy joined the company two-and-a-half-years ago and by his own admission he is a bit of a tech and research “nerd”. Launching a website calls for a huge amount of research and a dogged persistence that borders on obsession.
“Our industry is obsessed with being everything to everyone, which is fine for competitors happy to outsource work. But it’s not for us. We have 19 set products, and that’s it. A well-designed website is ideal for letting clients customise to the nth degree on areas like paper stock and size, but our website had to reflect the clear, uncompromising approach to what we do and the service we deliver.”
Those 19 set products include saddle-stitched brochures, perfect-bound documents, presentation folders, posters, stationery and greetings cards. Printed Easy is part of Falkland Press, a commercial printer serving print companies, manufacturers and education clients from a base in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire. Inside are Heidelberg Speedmaster litho presses and HP Indigo digital printers.
10 years ago company boss Jon Lancaster decided to launch a web-to-print set-up to underscore his commercial operation, which deals with larger customers and bigger orders, averaging £2,000 to £3,000. Web-to-print orders meanwhile average around £242.
By the time Duffy arrived in summer 2015 the web-to-print side of the buisness was generating sales of around £30,000 a month. It had the customer base and the orders, but the website was not up to scratch. And so last April Duffy decided it was time for a relaunch “to reflect us as a business as well as the customers we had and the ones we wanted”.
It set in train a four-month process that brought out the most tenacious thirst for knowledge in Duffy. From April to May he immersed himself in research. Key to this were interviews with each of the company’s top-100 customers as well as suppliers on what the brand meant to them, what they were looking for in a website, and why they used the service.
This is when all those ‘nos’ popped up: “I needed a 360-degree view of where we stood in people’s minds on web-to-print and thankfully our customers were brutally honest: they wanted a clean, concise, fluid and fast journey from start to finish. They wanted minimal clicks, no clutter, no clumsy jump between litho and digital capabilities, and no pop-ups.”
Duffy then looked into branding messages and tone of voice for the website – “factual and staid or fun, wacky and out there”. He looked at differences between premium and budget messages from the likes of BA versus Ryanair, and Sainsbury’s versus Lidl. Then he sat down with a designer and whipped out a moodboard before “emptying my brain” into a 10-page brief.
Duffy worked with an in-house designer and web developer but used a consultant for content to give concrete, direct meaning to all those moodboard abstract terms such as ‘vision’, ‘concept’ and ‘theory’. The final document was specific on the needs and aspirations of the website, spelling out everything from target audiences and USPs to pricing algorithms and how the website would work on mobile phones and tablets.
Duffy and his designer then spent another month side by side designing each page before the web developers built the site over two-and-a-half months, balancing front-end matters such as looks, feel and creative language with the hard-nosed back-end capabilities such as pricing for all of the different substrates and sizes.
Duffy joined the firm in September 2015, when it was doing £30,000 to £35,000 of business a month. In the past two months, this has risen to just over £300,000, and he is quick to point out the jump in business is down to many things – not just the reworked responsive website – such as the company rebrand, restructure and a marketing push, all of which cost about £500,000.
While Printed Easy has undergone a transformation, Falkland Press, for now, remains unchanged; the idea is to rebrand the entire company under one name in the near future. That hinges on the success of the website, which went live on December 7. All in all the launch cost £40,000 of that £500,000 including design, front- and back-end development.
Customers log in to order and then track their orders, download files, print out invoices and choose delivery options such as next-day or within three days. The website is also “intrinsically” linked to the company’s MIS to help streamline production processes, improve internal workflows and enhance speed to market. This enables the team to focus on their core business, says Duffy. For example, every job submitted online is immediately assessed on the most cost-effective option, weighing up issues such as the quality required and how long it will take to print. The system automatically works out the optimum production method. So far so good, traffic is up: this January it was up 11% on November – the firm’s best month of 2017. February was even better, up 25% on January.
“We have seen significant increases this year, which is particularly pleasing as January can sometimes be a quiet month and a bit of a drop-off might have been expected. Instead, everything is increasing across the brand. Numbers of new users are up by around 30% while all our existing customers have found navigating and ordering on the new site very easy.”
He knows this because in January Printed Easy hosted a roundtable to garner feedback from 10 of the top-100 customers interviewed by Duffy. That feedback was positive with only a few points raised on minor areas. It also gave Printed Easy a few pointers on how to develop the site, such as mobile ordering, file management and a loyalty programme.
“Branding is important for all businesses, but for web-to-print it is superimportant. And an up-to-date customer-focused website helps create and reinforce your brand over time to build on that loyalty.”
Location Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
Inspection host Online director Paul Duffy
Size Turnover: £5.9m; Staff: 36
Products Leaflets and flyers, business cards, saddle-stitched brochures, perfect- and wire-bound documents, presentation folders, posters, stationery, stickers, desk pads, greetings cards and calendars
Kit Six-colour B1 Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106, four-colour B2 Heidelberg SX 52, B2 HP Indigo 10000 (two 12000 HD presses are on the way), HP Indigo 7900; finishing kit including Kolbus 610A binder, Horizon stitching lines, Heidelberg Stahlfolders, Polar guillotines, Morgana creaser and Vega Mira 102 folder-gluer
Inspection focus Setting up a customer-focused website
Conduct research to find out what customers and suppliers think of your brand, what they are looking for in a website, and why they use your print service
Focus on usability by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes to see how easy it is to complete online tasks and find what they are looking for
Keep it simple by ensuring intuitive, easy navigation and content that provides all the information without annoying distractions, such as pop-ups or other website clutter
Keep researching, talking to your customers and reviewing functionality after the launch to ensure your site retains the approval of your customers
Appoint an expert such as a consultant or in-house web specialist who can dedicate all their time, efforts and expertise on the web relaunch