Beginning in the 90’s the PDF file type began its rise. When it was created, its purpose was to create a paperless office. A document that could be sent via email, read on any machine and printed locally if needed. While it fulfills that purpose well, it has been overused on various websites.
Despite its roots and advantages, it’s time to move away from the PDF where digital content is concerned. PDF files have many limitations, both to users and to content creators. The time has come to fully embrace HTML for your digital content, and free yourself from the limits of PDF.
A Nightmare for Users
The first limit of PDFs is usability. Although it was meant to be universally readable that is not the case. For many users who don’t have a dedicated PDF reader installed, they won’t be able to open your content. In addition, PDF’s aren’t optimized for mobile users, which further complicates things for the many users browsing via their phones.
For users with disabilities, PDFs are restrictive. They are not ADA compliant which in addition to reducing the usability of your website, makes a PDF hard to access for visually impaired users.
Because of the file format, PDFs are also hard to share. Many sharing options only work on other file types such as .docs and .jpg which means users cannot spread your content organically via PDF. In addition, many business firewalls don’t allow PDF downloads, further blocking your content from its audience. Even if you only consider your users, PDF is not a great option for content format.
A Headache for You
On the content creation and marketing side, PDFs have even more challenges. First, PDFs aren’t crawlable by search engines. Your hard work on your content won’t be able to affect your SEO rankings and means you cannot track the performance of your content.
If you take advantage of email marketing, PDFs are usually not used as attachments in those emails, due to download restrictions and security. During the development process, PDFs are also a headache to design from the start. When they are finished, making updates is slow and requires a new file upload every time a change is made.
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The Move to HTML
If the downsides of PDFs weren’t enough to convince you, let’s look at the advantages of working with HTML.
First and foremost, your content lives on your website. It is crawlable, shareable, and usable there. You get the benefits of SEO referred traffic. Other metrics can also be pulled from HTML content allowing you to measure reader behavior and nurture leads.
If you’ve built your website to play nice with mobile users, HTML content that lives on your site is automatically mobile optimized. In addition, there is no need for version control or new uploads as the content can be edited at any time.
Lastly, you can customize your content much more in HTML adding dynamic content such as videos or animated gifs. HTML content also allows you to link readers to other parts of your site via embedded CTAs.
I’m not saying that the PDF doesn’t have a purpose. What I’d like to convince you of is that PDF isn’t the right format for your digital marketing content. HTML offers the flexibility and features that you need for successful marketing efforts.
Parqa’s team of experts can help you make sure your site is optimized across the board. Schedule a call with us today to see what we can do to kick-start your digital brand.