PDFs: Evil, lazy slothful and sinful

Why banning PDFs from your site will improve the ability of your customers to complete tasks quickly and simply.

PowerPoints are the curse of the intranet, and PDFs the curse of the Web. PDFs reflect print thinking. On the Web, we need Web thinking.

The next time I download a PDF and the first thing I see is a big picture of someone sitting on a bicycle, smiling; or someone in a suit, smiling; or someone working on an engine, smiling; or puppies in summer grass, yelping, I’m going to be annoyed.

I’m going to be very annoyed because this is the Web. I rarely want a brochure. I’m in a hurry and I want to complete a task. My life will in no way improve if I print out a brochure full of meaningless pictures and unhelpful happy-talk.

Every time I see a Web site full of PDFs I have this overwhelming desire to hit the Back button, because these Web sites scream, “We don’t care about your time. We took this print stuff and put it on our site because it saves time for us.”

The Web is not print. What may work exceptionally well in print may fail miserably on the Web. Print marketing material is designed to get attention. It is written with the intention that the customer will read it in some external environment. Therefore, it often contains contextual and background information on the organization.

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