PDF Misuse

not the first and surely not the last word on this...

So I've been looking round a large number of corporate websites today to try and get information out of them, and I've been horrified about the amount of PDF files that are used in place of inline information. And how little information the PDFs contain. Now, I can see a certain use in providing PDFs, as you can download and print them and give them to the powers that be and they don't get distracted by the navigation on the page, or confused by all that complex 'internet' technology. Then again, the same could be achieved by adhearing to webstandards and using CSS for print of a page to. Obviously the PDF can also be used to read off-line. Handy if the PDF actually contains more than some horrible marketing blurb which tells you nothing about what you are enquiring. And it ruins the experienc of research, you have to move to a different application, switch context and tax your brain, to read this minimal piece of text. And that's provided the link to the .pdf even works.

Don't get me wrong. PDF's are great for print. I issue all of my invoices in PDF format, I use them for forms and for printable matter from websites. But I don't use them for small pieces of content that are a vital part of what I'm trying to find out on a website.

When will people learn? Soon I hope.

published 2003.09.17 updated 2017.06.26
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