Though PDF files offer many benefits over other electronic documents, when it comes to being offered on websites, they do create some problems for users. Since the strengths of PDF files far outweigh the weaknesses, we will look at how best to use PDF files on websites so that they have the maximum impact.
If you would like to store or archive the contents of web pages as printed output, you might have noticed that you come across quite a few problems. The content of all the web pages are not always formatted to fit inside a page and often runs off the side, pages often break at unexpected and often inappropriate points and sometimes the content just runs into one single long column that is hardly easy to read. Many website developers provide specially formatted web pages containing the same content but without too many visual elements so that the pages can be printed without any problem. On the other hand, this does not help when you need to provide information about products, especially when specific features have to be visually highlighted.
The best solution is to use PDF files for this purpose. Not only can you provide all the visual elements that you require in PDF files but you have a much better control over the layout of the entire page, however complex it may be and include interactive elements such as forms that need to be filled in and so on. In addition, it is not difficult to recover PDF data in the eventuality that any file becomes damaged or corrupt due to frequent use.
Despite these obvious advantages over standard webpages and of course, other benefits that the PDF file format offers, you might still be hesitating to use this file format to share information on your website. Some of the main concerns are as follows –
- PDF files require special software for viewing the files and users must know how to download and install it before being able to view the PDF files from the site.
- Navigating through a PDF file is a little different from doing so on a website. For example, instead of the standard browser toolbars or keyboard shortcuts, the user now has to deal with bookmarks and PDF-specific navigation methods.
- In PDF files, information is almost always presented in side-by-side text columns that are not easy to read online.
- Downloaded PDF files can often get corrupted and unless there is a way to recover PDF files, the data can be lost.
All these can sometimes lead to great frustration to users. The solution is to make effective use of PDF files on websites.
Instead of using PDF files on a large scale, stick to using PDF for only those documents that need to display all the visual elements as well as content precisely such as product brochures or instruction manuals. You could probably provide the rest of the content in HTML. Provide clear instructions on how users can download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software so that they can view or print PDF files without any problem. Finally, you can make them aware of powerful third-party tools such as DataNumen PDF Repair from DataNumen that will help them scan and recover PDF files if they suffer from any damage or corruption.