It seems to be common on the web to provide users with some visual element on the page to either print or bookmark a page. This is all well and good (and probably doesn't hurt for the most part), but I question its effectiveness at causing the intended behavior.

Is there any evidence to suggest that this causes an increase in bookmarking/printing behavior? Similarly, is there any evidence that users will use this method rather than the browser's default interface for the functions?

I am really looking for user research with actual results, rather than anecdotes to answer this question.

Thanks, Joseph Mastey


I don't think you're going to find any actual hard data on this as there is no way to tell if anyone uses these links without actually looking over their shoulder (or installing spyware on all of your users' computers).

I don't know if they increase in bookmarking or printing but I don't think that matters. What it boils down to is usability. Does it make your site more usable? If yes then it's a good thing to do even if it doesn't mean more people do it but more people have a better experience on your site or while using your software.

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    You could just use GA to log the click events yourself. Though you won't know what percentage of the actual print/bookmark actions are done through those buttons, just how many times they've been used. – Lèse majesté Feb 22 '11 at 0:38
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    Very true. It also won't tell you whether that user would have used completed that action normally through their browser if those links weren't there. – John Conde Feb 22 '11 at 4:01
  • I was hoping that someone would take the LukeW approach and actually look over someone's shoulder. – Joseph Mastey Feb 22 '11 at 15:59

Of course they are used. The user may intend to print the page anyway, but you have made it easier for him.

If you intend to implement it make sure to track everything. Use GA for event tracking to track the clicks on "Add to Favorites" or "print this". Use GA to track the links by adding tags to your links, then view the number of visits it generates under the source/medium report in GA

see here: http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

Here is an example (Note: window.external.AddFavorite only works in IE):

<a  href="#" onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','share', 'favorites', 'page name']);window.external.AddFavorite('http://www.example.com?utm_source=share&utm_medium=favorites&utm_campaign=bookmark', 'Website Name'); return false;">Bookmark this Site/page</a>
  • Thanks, it's already implemented, but I question whether it would increase the number of bookmark events total, rather than hypothetically siphoning off browser-based clicks. – Joseph Mastey Feb 22 '11 at 16:00

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