2006.06.30

Ok, this one is really a tip for any website. Do not duplicate browser functions.

Have you seen sites that have a link, and maybe even an icon of a little printer, with a ‘Print this page’ function? I have… I’m also pretty sure that almost every single browser I’ve used in the past 11 years has had a print function, just like 99% of the applications I use everyday. So why? Now, if your print function actually does something besides just bring up the print dialog, perhaps there is a case for it (though with CSS and print style sheets this is less relevant nowadays.)

Still, we continue to see things like Javascript powered links to “Bookmark this page” or go “Back” even though these functions have been built into browsers for over a decade. Why clutter up the valuable real estate of your page with things that every browser can do? Wouldn’t you prefer people focus on your message rather than on how they can print your page, bookmark it, send it to a friend, etc.?

It’s like a newspaper printing dotted lines around every article, just in case you wanted to clip it out and save it. Really. It is. one more time folks, Do not duplicate browser functions!

2 Responses to “Business Website Tip #301”

  1. I know what you are saying, but I think that there are many people that are scared or just plain don’t know how to use the browser for some of these functions. That may sound rediculous but it’s true. Also, for print functions, I think that there are two facets that must be considered. First of all, it advertises that the page is available for printing, as many web pages look poor when you try to print them, and secondly, some would say that it gives quicker access. Now, that is negligible, but I think it’s part of the reason that you see it so often. I’ve been designing a web application where it parses the data into pdf, so in this case, it’s not really something you could do with the browser anyway. So I guess it comes down to control, speed, and visibility.

    Hope to see you at the next web design meeting, I hope to give a short presentation on Rails.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I agree that too many pages look poor when printed, but I think a large majority of them could be improved upon with print style sheets.

    Can’t wait to see the RoR presentation, stop by the Meetup boards and leave a note about it if you get a chance…

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