Web Designers: Green Your Web Site

10 12 2008

The title of this post might seem a little odd, but trust me, you can green your Web site. Think about it – where would paper come into play on a Web site? On pages that readers want to print out of course.

GreenPrint
Web designers, (or non-Web designers), can download software called GreenPrint that will tell you which pages don’t have much text on them so they won’t get printed (like those pesky last pages that spit out only the URL, banner ad or legal jargon). You can download a version called GreenPrint World for free, or you can buy GreenPrint Home Premium Edition for $29. The software even keeps track of how much money you have saved by not printing unnecessary pages.

Here are some stats about GreenPrint from its Web site:

• If all U.S. households with a computer used GreenPrint, over $6 billion would be saved per year.
• If all new computers used GreenPrint, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by over 117 million tons. That’s the equivalent of removing 23 million cars from the road for a year.
• If all new computers sold in 2006 used GreenPrint, over 36 million trees would be saved every year.

Print Style Sheets
For Web designers, you can change the way your Web site prints to eliminate extras like banner ads and navigation menus that sometimes print on their own page – extending a print job for something that the user will just throw away.   

Many designers either don’t have time or don’t have the desire to mess with print style sheets. But by not styling the printed page, you either 1) waste a lot of paper and ink printing unneeded info or 2) make the user mad that the wanted text and/or image doesn’t even fit on the printed page or 3) both!

For Web sites like blogs, newspapers and magazines – the sites that are most likely to be printed – this is a crucial step toward lessening the carbon footprint and paper waste in the world. Even if you aren’t partial to recycling, you can prevent the need for recycling by styling your printed page to only print what’s needed.

Here are a few ways to reduce the waste of printed Web pages:

Delete the navigation. No one needs to print the navigation menu. It’s not like the user can do anything with the menu once it’s printed. For menus that run long down the side of a Web page, scrapping this from being printed can easily save 1 page.

Delete ads. Unless you are under contract to print the ads on your site, get rid of ’em.

Delete search boxes and other below-the-fold extras. Printing out a search box or an alternative nav menu doesn’t serve any purpose. Including one line of copyright info at the bottom of the printed page should be enough to let the user know later where the printed material originated.

Watch the size of your logo. If your logo is huge on the Web page, don’t let it print that way. There’s no reason for the logo to take up the top 1/3 of the page. Size it to print at the same size as your letterhead logo.

Although it takes a little extra time, by styling your print style sheets to eliminate unnecessary elements, you can prevent paper and ink waste and save the environment one page at a time.

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