5 reasons to put PDF reports to rest

PDF Report

I’d like to make a personal appeal to companies to stop posting PDFs for documents longer than a few pages if you want online readership. The tipping point has already happened and providing large PDF reports is no longer an option.

  1. It Crashes: Acrobat still crashes web browsers. With so many new devices and web browsers on the market it’s an issue with acrobat reader that will never go away. There have always been version compatibility issues with the reader and large organizations are slow to update their software. It was so bad that web browsers like Safari and Google’s Chrome now open PDFs directly with almost all the features disabled.
  2. It's Huge: To quickly read one page of your document I have to download the whole thing. On my tablet or phone the large file sizes are painfully slow and unnecessary. Not to mention the bloated PDF reader software that is constantly asking for large updates, trying to install browser toolbars and 3rd party security software. It’s not even cost effective to host all those large files on your server and pay the bandwidth costs.
  3. Poor Usability: Acrobat is page-oriented, which is fine for print, but makes for lots of scrolling on a modern display. I get lost in PDFs because the print-oriented viewer gives me a small peephole on a big complicated layout. Navigating with the sidebar inevitably obscures some of the content and searching for content is infuriatingly slow and cumbersome.
  4. Optimization: Sadly most PDF's are quickly saved in the graphic program that created them and not edited at all in Acrobat X Pro. PDFs of printed reports need to be optimized with a custom index, hyperlinks, meta data and streaming optimization. Even if you optimize the file you will find different PDF viewers display differently. Opening a PDF in Google and you will see moved images, text wrapping differently and almost no navigation.
  5. Complicated Search: PDFs are indexed in modern search engines but it doesn’t link to the term you searched for.  You have to download the whole PDF Report then search again through the software.  This isn’t an issue with small forms but large files can contain huge amounts of information. You must also consider that Google has lowered the rankings of large documents in order to make web pages more competitive.

Don’t be associated with the frustration of PDF reports anymore. Digital agencies will take PDF reports and convert them to companion websites that will be easy to update year after year.  Your customers, investors and stakeholders will find it easier to find specifics of your report and you’ll be saving a pile of trees at the same time.

When is the pain of large PDF reports being housed on websites going to end?

By Corri Loschuk
Creative Director
February 10th, 2012
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