PAPERLESS POST: HEMNA reviews the Christmas e-cards you can personalise

Christmas draws ever closer with a mere weekend separating us from roasts and festive puddings, mulled wine and heartily sung carols. It is also prime card-giving season, with 668.9 million Christmas cards sold in the UK (2008) and an astonishing 1.9 billion cards sent in the United States over the festive period (2005).

If like a lot of people, you are pressed for time, the idea of buying several dozen packs of paper cards, envelopes and stamps and having to individually write out each one probably is a difficult thing to move up on your to-do list. You know you have to, but those end-of-year work reports will not get finished up by Santa’s elves, no matter how good a girl or boy you’ve been!

But fear not, you won’t be magically transformed into the greetings card Grinch of Yuletide 2018 if you decide to call upon the services of Paperless Post. Headquartered in New York, Paperless Post is a remarkable, fun and innovative site offering a wide choice of impeccably designed e-cards, invites and even animated flyers, with contemporary designs brimming with flair, festive vibes and colour.

 

In the run-up to Christmas, Paperless Post has launched a range of festive cards and invites to send to your loved ones for Christmas greetings, parties and New Year’s Day celebrations. In collaboration with Paperless Post, HEM News Agency will put one of their personalised Christmas cards on a review road test.

As part of their festive promotions, the online stationery firm is offering customers the chance to spread joy instantly with their online holiday cards that are simple to send and delightful to receive. You can adapt your card’s design, track its delivery to the recipient and upload photographs of your choice, perfect if you like to make themed family greetings cards or at least want something a bit more memorable than a generic glittery robin on the front.

Under the “Holiday, Christmas, and New Year cards” section on the Paperless Post site alone there are a whopping 851 designs alone to choose from, which is far more than you can find in all but the most specialised physical paper card stores. I decided to go with the square format ‘Yule Blooms Christmas’ design as it is festive and professional in appearance in equal measure.

Although the display card is offered in ‘tall’ format’, I found you can choose from six different formats, or ‘design variations’ so if you prefer a particular card size, that option is sorted for you. Choice is a good thing, we must embrace it! Enter your log-in details if you are already signed up at Paperless Post, or alternatively log in with your Facebook or Google account and you can begin customising right away.

 

Firstly you need to choose your ‘backdrop’, which is the background your card will be displayed on. There is one free option, or for the small fee of one ‘coin’ (Paperless Post’s online currency) you can choose from several more. I went for the ‘Pure White –  Holiday’ backdrop with its alluring white snow field and pine needles and holly berries scattered above the top. Très festive, no?. Very easy to do, and just one click is needed.

Hit the Next arrow and the next customisable option is the card’s text. This is where you can really make your card’s message speak from the heart. Here you can change the text size, alignment, typeface, colours and much more, and the sliders make it easier for the less typographically inclined. Using the ‘Colors’ option, which presents their colour options in handy little spots showing the exact hue, I was able to customise the text colours to match HEM News Agency’s blog branding. In the middle of the card is a blank space with patterning reminiscent of the backs of Kodak printed photos we had in our millennial childhood family albums. Just click on that, and the photo editing suite pops up on the left-hand side menu. Here you can upload your photo or choose a pre-uploaded one. I picked the HEMNA logo stored on my laptop.

Following from that, the next option is the Envelope Liner, where you can choose the pattern for the inside of the envelope. While the presented liner choices were not really suitable for a Christmas-themed card, you can use the search box to find some that are. To match the Backdrop I chose earlier, I picked ‘A Christmas Kennel’, which despite its name does not feature dogs, or indeed kennels. Instead experience the natural warmth of holly berries and leaves, which really says ‘Merry Christmas’.

You can then change the envelope’s front with a pretend postage stamp and adapt the text where you address the recipient. However you cannot change the wording at this point, just the typeface and colour. Then it’s on to the reply card, where as with the envelope you can choose the background design. Strangely, I could not find any festive themed designs so had to make do with something more ‘around-the-year’. 

Once you have finished your custom card, the site takes you to the delivery suite where you can enter your recipients’ email addresses. If you are sending the cards out to a whole bunch of friends or family, or to customers as part of business marketing promotions for the Christmas period, you can upload email lists or address books to save yourself the time of manually entering everything. After sending, you can see if the recipient has collected their card and receive messages sent in response.

 

My verdict: It was a painless and easy process to create and send your own greetings card. The steps were clearly set out and in a logical order, with tonnes of design choice and options for customising, without being too technical, long-winded or complicated. There could have been more Christmas options for designs though in my opinion. The whole process took less than ten minutes from start to finish (I was writing this article at the same time) and there was no crashing, bugs or other errors during the design process. One thing I really appreciate is the attention to detail that Paperless Post weaves into every part of the design step, and the realism you get from the designs themselves. It is almost an oddly satisfying feeling when you open the email and watch the card glide seamlessly out of the pristine envelope and reveal itself. The designs are eye-catching and brilliant to behold. This is my second time reviewing Paperless and they don’t disappoint!

Choose your Christmas card adventure at paperlesspost.com

 

DISCLAIMER: The article was a sponsored post in collaboration with the online cards and stationery site Paperless Post, of which the author was compensated.

 

 

IMAGE CREDITS:

Paperless Post.

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PAPERLESS POST: Experiencing a new breed of e-card

 

They say that life is full of surprises and great things. And, indeed, you’ve just run into a whole bunch of them. Your sister has just had a baby boy, your friend has got his wedding date finally confirmed and the tinpot dictator of a manager at the office you have had to force yourself to be rictus grin nice to is leaving for a new position. Card buying season is making its presence felt but that same life of surprises usually consists of working all the hours thrown your way while juggling gym, hobbies, family time and all that jazz. You haven’t bought a greeting card since Take That split and running from pillar (box) to post (office) to buy stamps and envelopes just seems, well, tedious.

Even if you manage to get time to go out and actually do some shopping around, you will inevitably find yourself either stuck at the supermarket looking for an off-the-shelf card with a generic printed message and a pen that hopefully will not run out of ink halfway through writing in the blasted thing, or you’re at a stuffy printer’s shop trying to haggle a discount on a thousand wedding invites to be delivered ASAP. Because you procrastinated. And procrastination is a thing. You really need something more instant and fuss-free.

 

So send an E-card they said, it’ll be novel, cute and quick as a flash they said. But aren’t e-cards a bit tacky and cheap-looking? Surely good old card and paper seems like, well, you are actually even slightly bothered about this momentous and life-changing special occasion. Not forgetting that actual invitations and cards you can hold in your hand, keep and read at your leisure has a great permanency and intimacy that a few hundred pixels on a screen just cannot achieve. Well think again.

While in days gone by, e-cards were the height of gawdy electro-kitsch with their eye-bruising colours, goofy Clipart images and cat memes galore, a company based in the design capital of New York made the very smart decision a few years back to drag the much-maligned e-greetings industry kicking and screaming to the drawing board for a makeover fit for the 2010s.

Paperless Post is an online company that offers a wide selection of online invitations, ‘save-the-dates’, greetings e-cards and flyers to suit every occasion. Their stated ambition is to produce customisable online stationery that enables customers to create well-designed and personal items for that extra-special touch.

With their contemporary and inspiring creations worthy of a design gallery, not to mention their cute pigeon logo harking back to the days of carrier pigeon post and Yankee Doodle cartoons on a  Saturday morning, Paperless Post have become well-established enough to have scored collaborations with leading designers and lifestyle brands in the U.S., including Kate Spade New York, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and Rifle Paper Co. The company has generated more than 85 million cards to date, both in virtual and printed format, so even traditionalists and people who simply don’t have a computer or an internet connection that ever moved past dial-up can still receive an invite or card via Paperless.

I was invited by Paperless Post to try out their services for myself and had a go making a greetings card for the Hindu festival of Diwali – one of my favourite occasions, which you can see at the beginning of this review. The first thing that struck me about their website was just how amazingly appealing it was to my ‘inner designer’ ‘s eyes. With heaps of prominent imagery framed in soft pastels on just the home page, the site alone could win a design award or two.

While many websites that invest heavily in aesthetics end up neglecting the basics of good navigation, Paperless Post strikes a happy balance between the two. All of the company’s categories of offerings, such as graduation, birthday and festivals, are in a clear, minimalist and straightforward menu up top, so no need to go on an Livingstonian expedition around the site to find what you are looking for.

Like pretty much every e-tailer, you first need to sign up and create an account. You can go for the usual option of registering via an email address, but for the social-media-savvy, you can also sign up via Facebook or Google accounts too. Once done, it’s just the small matter of choosing a design and stationery item. Paperless offers both pre-designed customisable templates and an ‘upload your own’ option that enables you to upload photos and create something truly personal.

I chose to create a Diwali card. I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of designs which were culturally appropriate as well as gorgeous. I selected the ‘Under the Toran’ design with its array of flowers in a garland suspended on a luxurious white heavy paper background.

 

Once you have chosen your preferred style, it’s time to customise. There is a lot of flexibility in the choices, and you can adapt nearly everything from the typeface, colour and size of the card text, to the background behind the card when it’s opened and the colour and feel of the cyber-envelope to put your card in. The attention to detail offered by Paperless Post is such that you can add a vintage letterpress effect to your text and add the finishing touches of a cute little stamp and postmark to the front of the envelope upon completion. There’s the possibility too of choosing the pattern you prefer for the inside of the envelope, which Paperless Post dubs the ‘liner’ – very posh!

I found the user interface intuitive and offering a lot of wiggle room, although manipulating the text for the inside of the card was quite fiddly at first, but I soon got the hang of it, aided by the fact I had some experience designing graphics online using third-party websites. Although you don’t have to be a design expert, some technological prowess is helpful, although those who really struggle can get guidance from the ‘Help’ page.

 

To move between different stages you can click the ‘next’ and ‘back’ arrows (as seen in the image above) or on the menu to the left. The menu is also where you can find the patterns you need and you can play around with different combinations of design to see what fits and what looks great before you finalise everything.

Once the card or invite is complete, you can type in the recipients’ names and emails, and save them into a handy ‘address book’ for future use. The site also offers the option of reviewing the finished product by sending a test copy to yourself, as well as an RSVP facility for your loved ones to respond with messages or other details. You can also track the progress of your item once it’s sent, and even see if it has been opened yet, so no more barely believable claims about ‘the invitation must have got lost in the post’.

Paperless Post uses its own in-house virtual currency, simply called coins, which you will need to purchase before using the site. Coins can be spent on design elements and mailing out to recipients and it’s said to cost less to send an e-card en masse to, say, a hundred people, than if you went out to the local printers and ordered a bulk lot. You also save a bundle on postage and stationery costs too. Prices are not immediately clear when you choose designs, but you can see how many coins you have in your account via your dashboard.

The website was quite clear and helpful in leading me on my journey from template to sent email, with a varied range of different contemporary designs and styles to choose from. I really liked the concept of a card without the paper (and paper cuts). It is a cool and personal touch, and ideal for the environmentally conscious and those who like the instant nature and realistic feel of sending a Paperless Post e-card. It’s also money-saving (as in not having to go out and buy a card, envelope, stamps and all that malarkey) so making Paperless Post ideal for much convenience and less headaches. The sort of inner peace that you just can’t obtain from running around trying to get cards printed and posted before the party plans go up in ink and smoke.

The card I designed was so realistic and detailed, right down to the texture of the ‘paper’, that I had to honestly remind myself not to try and peel it off my laptop screen. The animation of the envelope appearing onscreen and opening to reveal the card emerging is a nice little gesture too, another sign of the attention to detail Paperless Post is famous for.

I guess the supermarket card display won’t miss me too much now I can get my cards straight from a cute website and its little pigeon.

Paperless Post

paperlesspost.com

 

DISCLOSURE: The author was sponsored by the company mentioned in this review and received an incentive in order to fully utilise the product, but opinions and experiences mentioned in the post are the author’s own.

SOURCES:

Helen Chuchak, Anagram Interactive

Paperless Post.