Zazzle Review: Custom Photo Cards and Invitations
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|Low price point and good printing quality, but very uneven selection, challenging shopping experience and difficult design tools detract|
Zazzle allows users to design their own customized goods, from cards and stationery to mugs and apparel. The site and its users also provide a range of card, announcement, and invitation templates for customers to personalize as they wish. We tested the service to see how they stack up next to the many custom photo card and invitation sites we've tried.
Shopping and Selection
If you're willing to put a little extra time into the search, you can find some great options at Zazzle, but part of what you're paying for with one of the more expensive services is a team with a great design sense to curate a beautiful selection and make shopping easier. This is an area where Zazzle cuts some corners.
Like Cafe Press, Zazzle caters to people planning to open their own store of custom goods or to order a few custom items for an event or special occasion. The company does provide a few professionally-designed templates for cards, including photo cards for a wide range of occasions and customizable invitations, announcements and stationery. Most products, however, are designed individually by Zazzle users, so quality can vary, as can customizability. Some Zazzle users create surprisingly polished and attractive work, while others have stores clearly designed just for their own customization needs. This user-reliant system also makes it somewhat more difficult to browse cards with Zazzle than with some of the other sites we tested, as the quality of the organization depends on other users to tag, title and categorize their creations appropriately.
Although a little rudimentary and reliant on good planning from card designers, the Zazzle customization tool is surprisingly effective. Though graphic design elements can't be moved (a common flaw in online card design tools), text boxes can be moved, added, or removed as well as edited. It took us a minute to figure out how, but users can also change font style, size or color, and rotating text boxes is pretty simple.
Zazzle also offers the option to print text, images or patterns on the back of the card at no additional cost, a perk that can cost extra for each card with other services.
Zazzle does not offer proofing or design assistance services. Since the site order minimum is 10 cards, you must order at least that many if you'd like to see a sample before placing a larger order.
Zazzle offers three shipping options. The site calculates shipping costs based on your specific order, so we have used the cost of shipping 100 5 by 7 inch cards for this chart. Turnaround times include one business day for production time.
With one of the quickest production and delivery times of any of the services we tested, our test order from Zazzle arrived via standard shipping three business days after we placed it. The cards came in a plain, cardboard envelope and were protected by a clear plastic sleeve inside the package.
Zazzle offers five paper types, some in multiple colors. Some premium papers incur a small extra charge per card.
We ordered our test card on the Basic paper. The card stock seemed to be somewhat lighter-weight than many of the other test cards we ordered, and it had a slight sheen, reminiscent of matte photo paper.
Overall, we were actually impressed and a little surprised by the quality of the Zazzle product. The printing seemed to be high-quality, and we have no complaints about how our photo came out. The card did have a few tiny smudges around the edges and we didn't like the template as much as some of the others we ordered, but we were pleased with the pattern printed on the back.
Though the designer did add a logo to the back of the card, Zazzle itself did not, which was an improvement over the CafePress design we tried. We could definitely tell that our Zazzle template was lower resolution than those on some of the premium sites, but given the lower pricing, that didn't really surprise us. Zazzle prints all its cards using digital offset presses.
The Zazzle site seems designed to discourage you from getting in touch with customer service on the phone, but the company does offer phone-based support between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday. They also provide an email address for customer support questions and an extensive online help section.
A midpriced option for small orders, Zazzle offers very competitive discounts for ordering in bulk and becomes one of the least expensive providers for orders of 100 cards or more. Zazzle has a 10 card order minimum, and discounts max out at orders of 250 cards. However, customers can qualify for bulk discounts by assembling orders of different cards, not just by ordering a large number of the same design, which is a nice feature.
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.
With a little searching, customers can find some nice templates for custom cards with Zazzle. The quality is pretty good, especially considering the price. If you don't mind a slightly tricky design tool and a somewhat challenging shopping experience and you aren't looking for a premium card, Zazzle might be right for you.
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