Photo books come in a range of options and styles, from softcover with images front and back, to hardcover with no images at all, and more in-between.
Below you'll find a round-up of the approaches our experts take to test and assess different photo book services.
Our expert testers have extensive experience in working with a wide range of photo book services, because it's not just about how pictures look, but how long your book may last and how it looks when it's sitting on your coffee table.
Each time we test photo books we start by doing extensive market research to find the right services. Many are holdovers from previous years, but we also include new brands as they gain popularity.
We buy one photo book from every service we test. We use the same range of photos – a carefully picked mix of images with different lighting and colour themes – and always order the closest-to-A4, standard, hardcover option.
If a book is damaged on delivery, we contact the service and let them know. How they respond to a damaged product doesn't affect the score, though we may comment on it because in cases like this, customer service is an important part of the overall experience. Our results are based on the new, undamaged product received as a replacement.
Our testing includes a comparison of how easy the photo book software is to use as well as the quality of the images and book. The overall score is made up of quality (60%) and ease of use (40%).
Our photo book service quality score accounts for 60% of the overall score and is made up of:
- Image quality (50%) Includes expert testers comparing the image quality between photo books, looking for colour accuracy, visual noise, saturation and vibrancy, even patches of monotone colours (such as no streaking in images with large portions of sky), skin tone, sharpness, brightness, lightness, blacks, and how each handles low-light images.
- Paper quality (30%) Takes into account the weight of the paper, how hard it is to crease, and whether it sits flat when the book is open on a table.
- Cover and binding quality (20%) Evaluation includes whether the binding is visible when the book is open, the flexibility of the binding when the book is opened more than 180 degrees, how strongly it holds the pages in place, and whether it retains its flat shape or bows over time.
Ease of use
Our photo book service ease of use score accounts for 40% of the overall score and is made up of:
- Page layouts (15%) How easy it is to apply a layout style to a page, how many layout options there are, and whether they're all sorted for easy access.
- Container movement and resizing (15%) How easy it is to place photos into containers, then move them around the page and resize them to make a custom layout.
- Text placement (15%) How easy it is to place text on the page, and how many options for text placement there are.
- Sign-up/set-up process (10%) How easy it is to get started using a photo book service.
- Assistance (10%) We look for the presence of 'getting started' guides, help files, videos, FAQ sections, tooltips, on-page guidelines or any other assistance provided in the photo book creation process.
- Editing tool's layout (10%) We assess the main layout of the editing service and if it's intuitive (for example, if main features such as photo assets and layouts are easy to access).
- Preview function (10%) How easy it is to see a preview of your book before ordering. We also identify any mistakes in the layout.
- Adding pictures (5%) How easy it is to add photos from a computer or online service, such as Facebook.
- Autoflow process (5%) Whether there's an autoflow/auto-fill process for automatically filling a book with images, how easy it is to use, and how effective it is with our test photos.
- Ordering process (5%) How easy it is to make a purchase once the book is completed.