Save paper & keep visitors happy with print-friendly websites

Don't leave your site visitors with a handful of straight-to-the-recycling-bin extra sheets.

Written on July 14, 2021 by Christina Blust

We’ve all tried to print an article from a website only to find that the printout includes a bunch of junk. Maybe the whole website footer printed below your recipe, taking five pages for what should have needed one. Or your directions printout included sidebar ads and the main menu. Ugh!

Look better in print

There are some pretty clear earth-friendly and people-friendly reasons to make your website work better in print:

  • Printing as few pages as possible saves paper and ink, reducing ecological waste.
  • Optimizing printouts saves your site visitors money on supplies.
  • Clean, clear printouts give people a positive take-away from your site.

Is printing always bad for the earth?

The answer is more complicated than it may seem at first.

  • Printing a page uses paper, ink, and energy.
  • But visiting a webpage over and over uses electricity and server resources each time.

If your website has the kind of content that often gets printed — recipes, resources, directions, guitar tabs — it is worth taking the time to refine your site and minimize what resources are needed to print the content.

You can also optimize your printing itself by using an efficient printer, recycled or reused paper (both sides), and printing in economy mode when possible.

“Print styles” to the rescue

At Blustery Day Design, we build custom print styles into every website we build for our clients. These are special rules (technically “print” media queries in our CSS files) that tell printers to ignore certain content and style other content differently.

Print styles can make a significant difference in how the final printout looks and in how many pages are required.

A before-and-after example

In this example, you can see in the “before” image that 4 pieces of paper were required, lots of extra junk printed, and the text was sized smaller than ideal for easy reading. After our print styles, only 2 pieces of paper are needed, and the text is nice and legible.

How to check your current site’s printability

If you have an existing website, open it in your browser and go to the print preview window. On most browsers, this is found in the menu under File > Print. Browsers vary, but you should be able to see a preview of what the page will look like when printed.

If you’re working with us, you’re covered! If not, ask your web folks if custom print styles could help your site’s visitors save paper, ink, and money.

Top photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

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