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VistaPrint: A Smart Solution for Small Businesses?

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 3/12/2009

VistaPrint is a graphic design and online printing company that can handle virtually any of your desktop publishing projects and the big advantage to using its services is its cheap prices. With that said, let’s take a closer look to help you decide if VistaPrint is right for your project.

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    VistaPrint’s patented online technology greatly reduces the amount of time, labor, and money traditionally associated with graphic design. You can get everything done on the VistaPrint website to complete your project and it offers satisfaction guarantee. VistaPrint caters to small businesses, a niche market that can appreciate the time and money saved using VistaPrint’s services. The website at is straightforward and full of clear and concise directions for its myriad of services. You'll find a large selection of designs and logos to work with or you can create your own on the site. If you have your own logos you can use them for your project, although it’s more expensive. Of course, you will see the charges before you proof and confirm your order so just be vigilant.

    So, should you use VistaPrint's services for your small business's desktop publishing needs? In the rest of this article, I'll break it down, with a look at some of VistaPrint's better known services as well as other factors that will help in your decision-making.

    Business cards are what VistaPrint is perhaps best known for and the reason for this is that they provide you with the templates, designs, and color schemes right on the website to create a quality card for a low price. Check out my article, "Business Cards Printed For Only Shipping Costs" (, for the details on this service. I recommend VistaPrint for this project, especially in terms of cost-effectiveness. The process is simple, there are many choices, and I think printing them yourself wouldn’t be worth the hassle. One thing to keep in mind whether you’re using VistaPrint to make business cards, brochures, or post cards is to be cognizant of the add-ons and upgrades they offer. While these add-ons may enhance your finished product, they will cost you. Then again, you might just like what they have to offer and be willing to pay for it. VistaPrint wouldn’t be as successful and have such a large market share if it weren’t satisfying customers. Its world headquarters are in Bermuda. That little tidbit of information won’t get you far but I found it curious. Otherwise, it's a huge company and the sun is no doubt always up at one of its facilities.

    VistaPrint is also a good choice for items like refrigerator magnets, pens, announcements, and holiday products. The company often will launch some type of promotional offer free of charge so keep an eye out for them and take advantage of them. It never hurts to promote your business anyway you can and VistaPrint from time to time lets you do it for free, although you do pay for shipping.

    Another factor to consider is how quickly you need your items. The shipping charges increase dramatically the quicker you need your items. VistaPrint produces brochures and similar marketing materials comparable to a company like Fedex Kinko’s for, in many cases, a quarter of the price, as long as you’re in no great hurry to receive them. Fedex Kinko’s or your local printer is going to have more selections and higher quality stock but you’ll pay for it. (To learn more about Fedex Kinko’s online printing services refer to my article on entitled "Fedex Kinko’s Online Printing Services:"  I’d go with Kinko’s for more complex projects like presentations with tabs and bindings. VistaPrint does have a partnership with Office Max so if you have one near you that might be advantageous and convenient. You’ll save if you pick up orders yourself.

    VistaPrint also has a handy Mailing Services solution, which covers everything from creating your postcards, for example, to delivering them to your potential customer’s mailbox. Customers can use Mailing Services to upload their own list or purchase direct mail lists and have VistaPrint mail their postcards. This service cuts down on postage costs and the time-consuming chore of addressing and mailing them yourself. The lists VistaPrint sells to its customers are generated by AccuData and they apparently encompass many small business categories and are checked by a registry to make sure they’re delivered properly to the place where the designated human is supposed to live.

    As I’ve said before, be very careful proofing your work and be vigilant in keeping track of add-ons and enhancements that drive up the price. Just as in many shopping experiences, you may go in for a few things and come out stuffed to the gills with things you didn’t even think about beforehand. There have been complaints about a reoccurring charge for a rewards program that customers had no knowledge of signing up for. Hopefully, VistaPrint has remedied this but click on with caution and read the fine print. All in all, however, VistaPrint does a great job at creating high-quality desktop publishing products. Its website provides you with everything you need to create your business promotional materials, often for the cheapest rates.