It’s kind of obvious when you think about how you read a book, a brochure, a magazine and a website: You use different reading techniques for different media.
I came across this post on BestBizCom, which is an interesting site, which discusses printed brochures and ends with “Just be sure to put the PDF up on your site, so you’re covered on all fronts!”
The reality is that most web users hate PDFs:
- If they don’t have Adobe’s reader, they have to download it. A big distraction.
- Unless they are used to it, they find the change in the UI from browser to Acrobat very confusing.
- There are weird delays in downloading the content. Most web pages should download in under 10s on the slowest connection. PDFs almost never manage that.
- PDFs are hard to navigate for the average user.
I was at a conference a few weeks ago where someone told me that their boss insisted that all the content on their website, except the home page, was delivered in PDF format. What a disaster!
Then we come to the question of how to write for the web. Basically, it’s not the same as writing for print media. It needs to be:
- Shorter by about 50 per cent compared to print
- Free of hype or marketing polyfiller
- Free of long words and jargon
- Written for scanning: bullets, highlighting, shorter paragraphs
- In my opinion, left justified not fully justified down both margins