Shutterfly Review: Custom Photo Cards and Invitations
|Simple but effective design tool, a range of styles and good print quality: nice, mid-priced option for many projects|
Though Shutterfly bought one of our favorite custom photo cards and invitations sites, Tiny Prints, a few years ago, the company maintains its own range of photo cards, announcements and invitations. The selection, tools and shopping experience are quite different from Tiny Prints'.
Shopping and Selection
Shutterfly offers a wide range of customized goods, including announcements, invitations, greeting cards and stationery. The site directs you to Tiny Prints' Wedding Paper Divas for wedding invitations, but they do offer bridal shower invitations, save the date cards and wedding announcements at Shutterfly.
In addition to cards and stationery, Shutterfly produces photographic prints, photo books, calendars, home decor items, magnets, blankets, mousepads and reusable grocery bags, among many other products. With a strong emphasis on photography, Shutterfly allows users to import their pictures and partners with professional photographers to help their customers purchase prints, books, stationery and other customized products.
Shutterfly's templates are attractive and well-designed. The site organizes them into categories by event, and allows users to further refine the categories by specifying how many photographs they'd like to include, what shape and size they prefer, a specific designer or even the colors in the card. Shutterfly has a wide range of options in all of these categories, and does a particularly good job of accommodating one, several or many photographs. Most of the site's designs allow customers to add extra photographs or text to the back of the card for no additional charge.
Adding cards to your "favorites" section as you browse is easy. With just one click, you can collect a number of cards to see them side-by-side later. This makes picking out your favorite design easier.
The Shutterfly design tool is quite easy to use, if a bit basic. Some cards come with options to use one, two, or several pictures, but most have just one variable, with a set number of photos. Users can edit several set fields, but cannot add new fields or edit more graphic elements of the design, including most large, decorative text. On the backs of the cards, however, most designs allow users to add text fields or photographs using a number of default layouts.
Uploading photos is easy, as are cropping and zooming in. Photos follow you easily from design to design once you are logged in, so you only have to upload each one once. For most text fields, users can change fonts, including adjusting size and color. You can save designs as you go, which makes it easy to try out several options and then choose the one that comes out best.
Shutterfly does not offer design assistance or proofs, but since the site has no order minimum, you can easily order just one customized card if you'd like to see a sample before you place a large order.
Unlike most of the other card sites we've reviewed, Shutterfly doesn't charge a flat shipping rate, but instead adjusts shipping charges depending on how many cards you order. The company offers a variety of shipping options and says that production of greeting cards usually takes 2 business days.
In addition to traditional shipping services, Shutterfly will address, stamp, and mail your cards for you. To facilitate fair comparison with other services, this chart details the turnaround time (including production) and cost of shipping 100 cards. For specific information about how much a larger or smaller order would cost to ship, please check the Shutterfly site.
With standard shipping, our test order arrived via USPS 7 business days after we placed the order. This was a little on the slow side, judging by our other orders, but still within the site's predictions. The orange Shutterfly envelope was a little less sturdy than many other sites' packaging, but it did get the card to us undamaged. Inside the envelope, we found our card, a blank envelope and our receipt, also printed on card stock.
Shutterfly prints its cards on three different papers. Flat stationery cards are only available in the matte finish card stock, while folded cards are also available in a glossy card stock. Photo cards are printed on matte or glossy photo paper. Shutterfly does not provide thickness information about its papers.
Our test card was printed on the matte card stock. The card was more glossy on the back than most of the others we've ordered, and even came with a note on the receipt that we should be sure to use a ballpoint pen because other pens might not dry quickly enough on the slick paper surface. Somewhat oddly, the printed side of the card is less glossy than the blank side. Still, the paper is fairly high-quality as compared with other test cards we ordered.
The printing was high-quality, and our photo came out looking great. We liked the design in person, and it was just what we expected from the previews on screen. Shutterfly printed a small logo on the blank back of our card. The photograph looked a little crisper than the text on our card, and the slightly odd texture of Shutterfly's card stock was not the best surface we saw, either for printing or for writing.
Shutterfly provides customer support via email, phone, a forum and an online knowledge-base. Phone service is available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST, and on the weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.
A solidly mid-priced option, Shutterfly is less expensive than the premium photo card sites we've reviewed, but more expensive than most of the bargain options. The site has no order minimum, and offers increasing discounts for quantities up to 151, at which point the price levels off.
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.
A mid-priced provider with pretty good print quality and an average to large selection, Shutterfly is a great option for people willing to compromise a little on design and quality in exchange for a lower price tag than the premium sites. The design tool is simple, but functional, and templates offer customers lots of options.
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