Perils of PDFs


Are PDF files Mobile Friendly?

PDF files may be great for distributing content that needs to be printed in a pre-defined format, a poster that fits on a certain paper stock for instance, but people are reading on all kinds of devices these days, and paper is really the least common medium. They have their function, but over the past quarter-century, HTML with styling from CSS has become the format of choice for delivering text and image layouts. It universally accommodates printing, displaying on phones, displaying on tablets and displaying on HDMI screens of any size.

To make my point, try reading this PDF report generated by the Delaware Department of Social Services on your phone.  What you'll find yourself doing is moving your finger all over the screen just to read a single line of text, because the layout isn't designed to interpret the dimensions of the display. If the end goal is to expand the audience of your writing, then stop saving all of your online data in PDFs, and switch to HTML5 files.

HTML files can be styled to match your intended format on a printer while also allowing anyone, in particular, a person with visual impairments, to read your information online.  When it is layout out responsively, an iPhone, a tablet and desktop will all show that data to the best of the display's ability. This is the same Wilmington report that is cited as a PDF above, except laid out in as a navigatable book on a website.

The difference is night and day. So accommodate your audience with data that they can access more easily and you will dramatically boost the effectiveness of your message.

It's 2018, do you still use a printer much?