February 10th, 2007 by Judith
A colleague and I were recently griping about how much we hate clicking on links that open a PDF document instead of a web page. The link looks innocent enough like “Plan Information” until you click then lo-and-behold the browser window goes white while a 8 mb PDF file uses up all of computer’s processing power to open it up. This experience is one of the most annoying things I can possibly think of with the web. By simply adding qualifiers like the file type and size (”Plan Information, PDF, 8 mb”) you could alert a user to the level of commitment they’d be getting into when I they click that link. If I saw that it was a PDF, I wouldn’t click it unless I really wanted that piece of information.
The thing that kills me about most of these PDF links is that the payoff, if your browser doesn’t crash, is usually disappointing. Most of the time it is text that can easily be converted to HTML or it’s a bloated brochure with lots of pretty pictures. This colleague recently forwarded me a newsletter from an Irish customer experience guy named Gerry McGovern who wrote on this very topic…Check it out: http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/nt/2007/nt-2007-02-05-pdf.htm