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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Is an on-screen Print Button "old hat"

    I have recently started a job that takes me away from my usual comfort of user centred web design; my new job is more about information architecture. Coming from a user centred approach I have always felt that any methods of making it easier for the user to quickely get what they want is important. However I have been informed in my new role that a on-screen print button is not necessary and "old hat" as all user's will by instinct know that the file/print will remove the content from the template.

    Is this true?

  2. #2
    SQL Consultant gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    all users? no

    but there is much to be said for not re-inventing browser features

    do you have a custom Back button too?
    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
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  3. #3
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    I think if it's the action you want them to take (such as on a receipt page) then calling attention to it with your own button is completely okay and probably even recommended. If it's the third of fourth level action on the page (like a news article), then I don't think you need to re-invent the wheel.
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  4. #4
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    I agree sort of with not re-inventing browser capabilities however, the screens in question contain detailed instruction with a lot of blurb. I feel people will not only want to - but need to print this quickly and without fuss.

    And I would love a custom back button do you think this will go against modern thinking too.
    Last edited by Oldlady; Oct 27, 2008 at 11:44. Reason: trying to answer while at work

  5. #5
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    I don't think it should be necessary to re-invent features that are built into the browsers, like Print, Back or Text Size/Zoom.

    Having said that, I actually have a 'print' link in one place in an intranet application. Some of our users are very computer literate, others are not, so every little bit helps.

    Unless it's on an intranet or some other controlled environment where you are guaranteed that every browser supports JavaScript and has it enabled, you should create the 'print' link/button with JavaScript. That way, non-JS users won't be annoyed by a link/button that doesn't work.
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  6. #6
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    The Print button of a browser is normally visible anyway. The only valid use I can think of would be for the on-screen print button to bring up a printer-friendly version.
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  7. #7
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    The Print button of a browser is normally visible anyway. The only valid use I can think of would be for the on-screen print button to bring up a printer-friendly version.
    Having Print Friendly versions of pages is a stone age technique that was needed prior to the introduction of style sheets where we can specify different page layouts for our content for different media. The displayed version of a modern web page incorporates the print friendly version in it so that pressing the print button automatically prints the print friendly version rather than the version intended for the screen. Having print buttons on web pages back when a separate print friendly version was required was useful for accessing that version - now the browser print button can access it.

    The only time you need separate print friendly versions of pages now is where you have a multi-page article that you want to offer as a single page for printing.
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  8. #8
    SQL Consultant gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    The only time you need separate print friendly versions of pages now is where you have a multi-page article that you want to offer as a single page for printing.
    if it can print easily as one page, why the xxxx don't you let it display as one page too?

    multi-page articles annoy the crap outta me
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    I agree with you, Rudy. The usual reason for breaking up a perfectly good article is to cram in more advertising.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  10. #10
    SitePoint Evangelist Karpie's Avatar
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    Multi page articles annoy the crap out of me too. (Sitepoint, yours do too.) Therefore I'll usually just open the 'printer-friendly' version and read that <.<

  11. #11
    SQL Consultant gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    we need to start a new movement in support of the "click here for user-friendly version" button!!

    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Black Max's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r937 View Post
    we need to start a new movement in support of the "click here for user-friendly version" button!!
    Rudy.

    From a user standpoint, I don't see a problem with a custom "Print" button if your page lends itself to unusually large amounts of printing, is formatted well for printing (hopefully through style sheets, h/t Felgall), and is used by an audience made up of relatively non-computer geeky types who won't be put off by such an "insult to their intelligence." It's not an insult to many user groups. This goes back to "designing for users, not for designers." Basically, if there's a need for such a specific button, then you should have one. You won't see such a button on Sitepoint, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, etc, but those are targeted for highly computer-literate audiences. I can imagine, say, a church site with printable bulletins whose users would appreciate a clearly visible and easily clickable print button.


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