A Print Template Rant

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You would think late comers would have learned from previous best practices. Nope. Ecompany puts “Continued on the next page…” in its copy since it appears on the (supposedly) ready-to-print template too. How smart to put navigation hints inside the text, really. And there’s also this huge header with an ugly logo and search engine, so useful on printouts.

It reminds me of sites such as ZDNet that get their content from print and keep mentioning “see page 285 for more”, or awkwardly refer to sidebars and captions that are not on the same web page (but direct linking would be too obvious!) Print templates with animated banner ads are fun too: the image from the banner that gets printed usually show you nothing you could actually act upon, such as, you know, a value proposition and url. If you syndicate your content but not your forum, please don’t mention the forum in the content!

I print a lot of web pages and waste a lot of paper. IMHO, bad printing is one of the worst, under-reported usability problems, only marginally improved by the print preview feature recently introduced in IE 5.5. Web sites should either provide well-thought and tested print templates, or make sure their pages have good looks both on screen and print.

06/26/01 update: Business 2.0 on the other hand has a great printer-friendly template.

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