Have you ever ordered a print of one of your favorite photos, and were disappointed with the results? Sometimes the print is not bright enough, or the colors seem muddy, or maybe you ordered a big print and it came back blurry.

In the spring of 2018, I set out to create a better online printing experience. The previous year, I had worked on the design team at Codecademy and was eager to apply the design thinking principles I learned there to this new endeavor. Choosing to focus on the product, the final print, would give me an advantage over other print shops. Nice Art Prints was born.

After a year of iterating and improving, Nice Art Prints became known for its high-quality prints and customer service. Building a solid brand identity, focusing on the customer journey, and welcoming feedback made my little print shop stand out in a crowded field of print shops.

The end product is incredible, and beyond my expectation. NAP worked with me to obtain my vision of the print, and provided the extra TLC to make sure that I was happy! From first inquiry to final product, they went beyond. Happy to have a new, caring and truly professional printmaker! — Kim H.

Building an Accessible Brand Identity

Early logo sketches included color explorations.

The design quickly shifted to black and white to maximize accessibility.

The start of every venture is exciting, especially for a designer. Selecting a name, making a brand identity, building a website, it's a thrill. Working alone, I knew it would be important to solicit feedback as often as possible. My first order of business was to choose a name. After brainstorming a few options, I ran polls on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Interestingly, Nice Art Prints was not the number one pick. The plurality had chosen, 'Scape (short for "landscape"). I was excited because I liked that name. Once I started reaching out to artists, however, I encountered a lot of confusion, primarily: "I don't get it, can I only print landscapes?" So, the straightforward runner up, "Nice Art Prints," became the final name.

Two important realizations transpired while designing the brand identity. Firstly, the logo and branding needed to be simple and bold enough to be memorable, but quiet enough to take a backseat to the customer's print. The print was the product, and I wanted it to shine. Secondly, it had to meet accessibility standards. At Codecademy, our original brand colors did not meet accessibility requirements for certain types of color blindness. The design team spent weeks developing new colors that worked for everyone. I did not expect to have millions of customers, like Codecademy, but I still wanted to be conscious of accessibility.

The final brand design solved both problems in a very simple way: use high contrast black and white elements. There were no colors, and because high contrast legibility was emphasized, accessibility was great out of the box. The colorless the branding also made the prints pop out at the customer as they opened the packaging, or viewed the product on the website.

Refining the Customer Journey

Big print shops automate their printing process as much as possible. Automation allows for high output, but quality takes a hit because of human variables. If the image was saved in the wrong color space, or the client's monitor is not calibrated to the print shop's specs, the print will not look good. This is why prints almost never look the way you expect them to. There is no one on the other side looking at the images and double-checking them.

My solution was to offer a hands-on printing experience. Every file was reviewed and optimized before printing, and each customer received a complimentary test print—a smaller version of the print made on the exact same paper as their final print order. The photographers and artists I tested with were very excited about the quality of their final prints, so I made an MVP version of the site and launched.