Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Problem With PDFs (Continued)

Sound familiar?

“[Consider] an average user of a U.S. government website: a 45-year-old PC user with Internet Explorer 10. Her child has a fever after eating at a restaurant, and wants to look up information on foodborne diseases. She goes to the CDC website, puts in ‘food poisoning’ in the search, and gets a link to an article on ‘What is food poisoning?’ When she clicks the link, however, she gets a prompt. It asks her to install the free PDF reader. She’s redirected to the Acrobat website, where she goes through the process of installing it—assuming she’s computer savvy enough. Once installed, the browser must be restarted, if not the computer itself.

“OK, installed! Now back to that article. She goes to again, searches, and gets the same link. This time it opens up, but then a popup with Adobe’s license agreement comes up. She irritably says ‘OK’ to the legal folderol and now, finally, can see the article. It’s five pages long, and structured with two columns. She’s on her laptop, so she can’t read the columns without zooming in, and then dragging with her finger or mouse around to read the document. When she finishes reading column 1, she has to drag all the way up to the top of the page again to read column two. Using the search feature doesn’t help much, because the screen is still jumping around from column to column as she tries to find all the time ‘children’ are mentioned in the article. At some point, she gives up in disgust and calls her pediatrician.

PDFs: A Digital Content Detour