Posted: Oct 15, 2009 @ 10:47pm
I’m often asked by customers if I can add a .pdf file to their website. The answer is yes, but most of the time I would advise against it.
Here are my Top 9 reasons why you should create your content as pure html instead of linking to a .pdf:
- Users must download and install the PDF reader, Adobe Reader. This process may be too complicated for the more novice PC user.
- .pdf’s often look terrible on screen.
- .pdf files are usually larger than a simple HTML version and take much longer to download. .pdf’s use more memory and CPU power, which is a problem for older computers.
- They can surprise visitors who were expecting to be taken to a Web page.
- Your audience is limited with a .pdf because it doesn’t work on all platforms - e.g. handheld browsers.
- .pdf information is less accessible than HTML, e.g. for those with vision impairments.
- .pdf’s are designed for printing, not browsing or spreading information. When the user does a copy-and-paste of text, it all ends up in one blob with paragraphs, lists, etc. all mushed together into one unformatted paragraph. Often the entire selection doesn’t show up in the clipboard. Problems with hyphenation and multiple columns, etc. often crop up.
- Images are embedded, so they aren’t easy to pull out as a .jpg or .gif file for reuse.
- .pdf’s are not as search friendly.
With that said, there are some instances when having a .pdf on your website is acceptable.
- Regulated forms
- Documents for printing
- Securing documents
- Document downloads
In all cases though you should indicate that the link is a .pdf so that the user is not caught off-guard. Click here to see how to display a .pdf link.