Mixbook Review: Custom Photo Cards and Invitations
|Go to Mixbook|
|Very robust design tool, great price point and low order minimum, but slightly lower print quality than the top picks|
Mixbook offers extremely customizable designs through its feature-rich design tool, but lags a bit behind our top picks in printing quality and style. Shoppers looking for high levels of customization but not ready to splash out for the highest end providers might find what they're looking for with Mixbook.
Shopping and Selection
Mixbook has built its business primarily around scrapbookers and custom-printed scrapbooking design tools. However, the service offers a wide range of other product options, including party invitations, announcements, save the dates, calendars, photo books and holiday cards for everything from New Year's to St. Patrick's Day.
Mixbook has a large selection in almost all its categories, and even boasts a significant range of wedding invitations for customization. If you're interested in scrapbooks or photo books, Mixbook has the tools for you and specializes in helping users design and print keepsake books. The site suggests using their customized books as wedding guestbooks, for gifts or in place of traditional photo albums. Users designing save the dates, invitations or other wedding stationery may enjoy laying out matching keepsake books after the wedding is over.
Mixbook offers both a quick editor for cards and a detailed design tool for laying out photo books, assembling calendars, and modifying card themes. The quick editor is great for users who just want to plug their photos and text into an existing Mixbook design, and it works a lot like editing tools from other custom card sites. You can click to add photos, drag to move them around, and zoom in to crop. You can also edit text with just one click. If you want to make more detailed adjustments to your card, like moving or adding elements, you can click on the "Modify Theme" link below the card you're working on to be taken to the detailed design tool.
Mixbook's focus on scrapbooks shows in their full design tool, which is among the most fully-featured of any of the sites we reviewed. With this tool, any element of a Mixbook design is alterable, including changing font colors and size, moving text and design elements, adding new elements and rotating pieces of the design. The downside of this is that it's fairly easy to bump pieces of the design out of alignment and have to spend time tweaking them back the way they were, so if you don't want to fuss with alignment you may prefer the quick editor. To the site's credit, the tool does a good job explaining in a brief intro how to use the most important elements of the full tool.
The full design tool also has a few fun features not related to detailed customization, including the ability to invite other Mixbook users or friends to collaborate on your designs. If you enter a friend or family member's email address, Mixbook will send them an email, asking them to sign up so they can help you with your design. Your collaborator will then have access to make changes to the design along with you. This could be great for families designing holiday cards together; brides collaborating with bridesmaids, family or friends; or just people who want a little extra input on choosing a design or photo. The other feature we really appreciated was the in-tool spellcheck, which underlines any misspelled words right on the card, preventing you from accidentally ordering your cards with a prominent error.
Mixbook auto-saves your progress as you go, preventing you from losing your work. Photo uploading is easy, and you can import easily from Facebook, Flickr, PhotoBucket, Picasa or Smugmug. The tool can also upload photos directly from your computer. Uploaded photos will be available for you to use in any design or project you make with Mixbook: you only need to upload each one once. Mixbook does make it a little harder to access all of your saved designs and pictures and to move from one design to another than some of the tools we've seen, though the quick editor's sidebar of related themes makes this easier.
Unlike some of the other photo card services we reviewed, Mixbook does not have a graphic designer review each order, so users should take extra care in proofing their own work before ordering a card. Mixbook does not offer samples or physical proofs, but since there is no order minimum, you can easily order just one card as a test before you place a larger order.
Mixbook charges a base price to ship the first card, plus a small additional charge for each extra card. The following chart contains turnaround time including production and displays the cost as base price/+ charge for each additional card. If you'd like your cards even faster, Mixbook offers rush printing, which will subtract one business day from your delivery time. The charge for rush printing varies with the size of your order.
Continental United States
Alaska, Hawaii & Puerto Rico
Our Mixbook order came in a green cardboard envelope with the Mixbook logo printed on the front. Inside the envelope we found our card and its envelope in a sealed clear plastic sleeve along with a card from Mixbook summarizing our order and highlighting a few of their other offerings. Delivered via UPS with Mixbook's Budget shipping, our cards arrived three business days after we placed the order (we submitted our design on the Friday before a three-day weekend, and the cards arrived the following Thursday).
Mixbook prints its cards on three paper options, all of which are certified by the FSC and the Rainforest Alliance.
Our test card was printed on Mixbook's classic coated cardstock. This wasn't the heaviest paper we saw in our tests, but for its price range, it was a nice, medium-shine option. Mixbook uses only ethically-sourced papers from sustainable forests, a point in their favor, particularly since they've managed to remain reasonably-priced.
The Mixbook card we ordered was one of the least expensive in our tests, and that was reflected somewhat in its quality. While our photo looked completely acceptable, we certainly saw higher-quality printing and paper texture in our other tests. We appreciated that Mixbook prints on both sides of the card for no extra charge, and liked the way our message and signature turned out on the back, but think that the faux texture on the front looked better on the screen than it does in person.
Text printed well on both sides of the card. All Mixbook cards are printed using digital offset presses.
Mixbook does not offer phone support, but the company does provide live chat support from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday. Mixbook also maintains an email contact form for those who would prefer that to live chat help or who have a question during non-business hours. Mixbook replies to emails within 24-48 hours.
Mixbook is one of the least expensive options we reviewed for customized cards from designer templates, though we didn't like the template options as well as we liked some of the more expensive choices. Mixbook has no minimum order size, so you can order just one card if you'd like. They offer bulk discounts for ordering more, though, which top out at 250 cards for 99 cents apiece. Though Mixbook is the least expensive source we found for single cards and orders of 25 cards, some of the other services drop below the Mixbook price for larger orders, so shop around if you need lots of cards.
This chart contains pricing information for the least expensive 5 by 7 inch flat card printed on card stock from this site. Different sizes and options may have different pricing. Click here for more information about how we compared prices.
While we wouldn't identify Mixbook as our top overall pick, we would certainly recommend it for those looking for budget cards in smaller quantities who need great customizability. Mixbook's tools are thorough and fairly easy to use, and the service printed and delivered our order quickly. It's also great to be able to order a single card, whether you use it as a proof or decide to order one customized card for a very special person or occasion.
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