The Humble PDF Is Ready To Rise To The Top
The PDF, which stands for Portable Document Format, is 27 years old now.That certainly makes us feel old, but it's heartening to know that even at that advanced age the format may still be approaching its peak of popularity, giving the rest of us hope.PDFs are widely used across many industries as they present a reliable format, which looks the same no matter what the screen size of the device it is being viewed on. Mobile phones are now capable of opening PFDs and they are easily stored on any device, allowing users to build up their own library of useful files which they won't lose should a website go down, or the file removed.
As a digital asset your PDFs are very important.Whether you mainly use the format for sending documents in house and to clients, or you use the format for informational downloads from your website the format is vital for many businesses. Yes, PDFs don't have the same capacity for tracking users as an HTML webpage, but you can still gather data about who is accessing them and whether you are finding repeat accesses, indicating a popular resource. Gone are the days when a PDF would download to your device and you would have to physically open it in a PDF reader – most browsers now open them in-browser while offering users the chance to save or print the file.
When PDFs were in their infancy you could not change anything within the document, which made them a very secure way of transmitting important information that should not be editable by the recipient, such as invoices and tenders. Now, it is possible to edit PDFs but changes are trackable, and there is still the option to lock the PDF ensuring that no-one but the author can edit it. Part of the benefit of being able to edit a PDF is that multiple people can work on the same document without corrupting formatting, and with changes being tracked it is easy to see who has done what.
Using this file format for marketing content like case studies, whitepapers and even technical documents allows businesses to provide the same information in the same layout to everyone, regardless of whether the user is at their desk or out in the field using a smartphone. For technical and support documents this is really important, as people working remotely on repair jobs may need access to these files and if the formatting breaks on different devices, as can happen with other file formats, diagrams and charts may be rendered inaccurate.
As a marketing tool a PDF offers easy shareability between people, no matter what operating system they use.In some companies you may have designers and other creatives working on Mac based systems, while admin and technical staff use Windows. Although file consistency is getting better between the two systems, using PDFs is a sure fire way to overcome these issues. A management level employee might want to share your content with their design staff and if it's in PDF format they can be confident that their colleagues will see exactly the same content, no matter what operating system or screen size they are using.
Next time you undertake a content review of your website consider creating PDFs of your most popular content so they can be easily shared, promoting your company in the process. If you don't already use the format then now is a great time to start because people are comfortable with them and used to having access to the format on any device.
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