In the digital age in which we now live, you may not think anyone is printing anything, but I assure you, the hard format and smooth feel of actual paper is alive and well. Well, for some people, at least.
Enter my husband, a beer enthusiast, who, in preparation for his man-cation of beer tasting and buying, wanted to print out a list of places a particular beer would be available for purchase. So he goes on the beer label’s website, easily navigates to the “where to buy” page, and is greeted with a looooong list of places sorted by restaurant/liquor store. He can’t possibly memorize all these places outside his hometown so naturally he wants to print it. (Though I personally would just look at the website on my phone while on the trip, but I digress.)
He tries to simply click File > Print. But the website is built in an unusual structure, with the content framed inside the site. Only the first few locations that are visually available on the monitor print out. About seven-eighths do not. He tries highlighting all the content and pasting it into a Microsoft Word document. All the names of the locations come out in white (the way they were on the website that had a dark background, which made this legible) which make them appear invisible. My husband cannot figure this out by himself (and he’s under 40 and pretty tech-savvy and smart in general, so what is this saying about your average beer-drinking website visitor?).
Once I clue him in, together we make the text black in the new document. It is 24 pages long. I put the list in columns for him. It is now 12 pages long. He doesn’t like how some of the addresses bump to the next column and aren’t together with their location names. He doesn’t like how large the font is and how much space is between each location. After about an hour of reformatting, I tell him to suck it up and drink a beer.
I tell you this story, not to share with you how frustrating my husband can be (should I do that in another post?), but to alert you that if you have a website, it really doesn’t take much effort to make it print-friendly and avoid all these shenanigans. Tell your web designer or developer you’d like a print-specific stylesheet implemented if there isn’t already one. You don’t want dark backgrounds to print (that would eat up all your site visitors’ ink). You don’t want navigation menus to print (you can’t click on them on a piece of paper). You may or may not want large photos to print (depends on your business and your site; if you’re a photographer, the photos are the main content so you’ll want them to appear on a printed copy). You DO want your logo to print (branding) and, most importantly, you want the CONTENT to print. It should be reformatted to fit on an 8.5×11-inch size paper without text cutting off or having to be printed in landscape. All of this can easily be achieved using CSS, which your web guy or gal should speak fluently.
And the next time you come across a site that is not so print-friendly, please don’t come whining to me and just skip ahead to that beer.