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Tips and Tricks

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Gambling with PDFs

A song comes to mind when I think about when to use a PDF document on a website. You may know the lines “You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.” In the case of PDF documents, you got to know when to link them, know when to paste the content on a web page. Okay, it doesn’t have the same rhythm, but follow me down this lyrical road and learn how to NOT gamble with your PDF documents.

First of all, there isn't always an easy, definite answer, and I encourage you to contact Web Strategy for consultation whenever that arises. It's always good to have a wild card up your sleeve! But here are some typical examples of what can or should not be a PDF document when placed on a website.

Can be a PDF document:

  • Newsletters
  • Handbooks
  • Manuals
  • Lecture Notes
  • Syllabi
  • Reports
  • Interactive forms that do not request security-sensitive information

Should not be a PDF document:

  • Plain text documents
  • Brochures that are not intended to be printed off by the user*
  • Any PDF that is a single link on an otherwise empty web page.**

* The web is a perfect way to make a brochure interactive or more meaningful to a user while online.

Print brochures Web brochures
Limited options for photos Multiple options for photos (slideshows, links to galleries), and inclusion of videos
Limited space for text Ability to expand on topics, be more detailed where necessary
No interactivity Links to registration forms, social media sites, and more

** The key here is placement. Is this the best usage of a web page, or can you place this PDF document on another web page that has related information? Do you need to reconsider your website’s navigation, move content around to be more usable/understandable for your audience?

We encourage you to contact Web Strategy for a consultation, so we can provide you with the options and offer you assistance with the technical solutions you need to utilize your website better and reach out to more of your audience!