I’m not a huge fan of Medium.com, but my dislike of PDFs is far stronger, so I was excited to see The Heritage Foundation ((I’m no fan of The Heritage Foundation’s politics and beliefs either. I did not read this report, but the section “Poverty and Dependence” is awfully objectionable. What I like is the technical desire to avoid a unhelpful document format they displayed here.)) find an easy-to-implement workaround for putting another PDF on the web.
People don’t like PDFs, so if you put important information in PDFs, you should assume people aren’t seeing it.
The PDF is dying. Study after study (some of them published as PDFs) have shown that the format just isn’t working. Many will remember the much-discussed World Bank analysis, which showed 517 of its reports were never downloaded (warning: that link is to a PDF report). The format that allowed us to print and attach documents easily just doesn’t work for readers in an era of countless devices and platforms.
PDFs take a long time to download, aren’t responsive, ((If you’ve ever tried to read a PDF on your phone, you’ll try to never do it again.)) and just don’t encourage people to engage with your content.
Their solution was to use Medium.com to build a quick, “microsite”-like set of pages to house their report’s sections:
The end result was exactly what we were looking for: a de-facto microsite that looks and functions as well as a custom-built destination. Sure, many of the design decisions such as those around fonts and colors were made by Medium’s template. But we got a visually-stunning, fully-responsive website. And we got it up and running using zero web development resources, and in less than a week from setup to launch.
I’d prefer to see them throw together a WordPress site instead so they own their content, but not using PDF is a big step in the right direction.
Hat tip to NTEN.org for featuring the linked article in an email.