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A Print View World

There was a SNL skit once which showed a news reporter on CNBC (or something similar) trying to do a report. Every couple of seconds new things would appear on the page. A new scroll at the bottom going from right to left, a new scroll on top of that going from left to right, a new window on the right, and after a while he started to get inundated with stuff and is left with a tiny box in the middle to speak to the viewers. It was a funny skit and somewhat true to form. The reason I bring this up is I feel this same frustration while reading some of these sites these days. The actual content of the page has been so minimized and spread across multiple pages it's almost unbearable and I begin finding myself in search of the "print view" button before even beginning with the site.

Not sure about others but I know when I see this type of design where the content of importance is almost non-existent, I am very put off. In my opinion you begin to alienate your user base. Now I understand that these content sources must make money, nothing is for free. But I would argue there are ways to accomplish advertising and there are ways to be obnoxious. Even in some cases, you'll find that some of these sites have very little ads, it's just the layout.

So in no particular order I monitored some of the sites which came across on Digg. I analyzed a number of them setting my resolution back to 800 x 600 and snapping some screenshots. I viewed the article in the original design and when available in the print view design. Again this is just my opinion, I'm not a designer or a marketing person, I just have my own views.

Case 1: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/apr2006/sb20060406_865110.htm

printview.JPG

vs.

printview1.JPG

Looking at the first image vs the second image you can't tell it's the same story much less the same site. Can you even tell what the story is about? I always give a sigh of relief when I see the second image, why can't we just have it that way to begin with? There are ads in that print version, heck put up a left nav and throw some more ads on there, it's still better than the first one.

Case 2: http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/ptech/04/06/pleo.pet/index.html?section=cnn_tech

printview2.JPG

VS.

printview3.JPG

This is showing that it's not always the ads which take up the space on the article. As you can see there are only a couple of ads in the first image but in the second I can see more than just the intro paragraph.

Case 3: http://news.designtechnica.com/article10019.html

printview4.JPG

VS.

printview5.JPG

Again, not very much ads, just a lot of misused space which cuts down on the reason i'm there, to read the article.

This is also why RSS becomes very important to the end user, with a feed I do not have to put up with this, just give me the content and iI'll display it as I want.
So here's what I suggest, what would be great is to create a firefox extension which will automatically display these pages in the print view by default. Not entirely sure how it will work but why can't I click on a link for an article and the first page I see is the print view page? Anyways, if anyone wants to create that I'll definitely use it!

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