19 March 2010

On print-friendly versions of web-pages

I don't usually plug anything, but...

I have been working my way through my to-do list as one does in idle moments and came up against an item I have sent to the back of the list several times. Readers want a printer-friendly version of the site's pages, and I was not looking forward to sorting that out. I no longer have external funding for a developer to do it, and I could envisage that my shaky grasp of javascript and/or css would lead to many hours of frustration, not to mention the pain of inserting the scripts into every one of 500-odd pages if they couldn't go into a server-side include...

Of course I googled for solutions, and there were many of the kind I had envisaged, and then there was this one! A snippet of code, much like the "embed" instructions for YouTube or SlideShare, to copy and paste into the standard page footer (there are only three of them across the sites) and it was done! Ten minutes max. I went for a walk in the park in the time I had saved, grinning stupidly (until it started to rain, but even that saved me from having to wash accumulated crud off the car...) Sometimes things do work out!

There's another variant, too, of more interest to readers than webmasters; you can simply drag a button from the site to the browser toolbar (it's a bit more complicated for IE apparently), and there is an instant widget to create a printer-friendly page from whatever you are looking at.

Except that I don't understand what the business model can be. The service is free. You don't even have to register. There are no ads (so far, and it appears to have been going for several months), and I wouldn't have found it but for my fairly specific search. Can it survive?


  1. This is Taylor, founder of PrintFriendly. Glad you found our service :)

    Regarding the Business Model, and "Can it survive?".

    We're better techies than business people so we don't have a business model. If anyone has ideas, we'd love to hear them!

    We do display ads in the Print Confirmation Window. This pays for the servers, but not much more.

    PrintFriendly will survive, because our cost are covered with minimum advertising. The big question is, what comes next??


  2. Thanks for this James. I followed the link and tried it out. And thank you Taylor. It's not often in this world we get something so good for nothing!


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