A quick way to give customers fast complete access to a printable version of your business or products is to get a PDF version of your brochure on your website. Smart move! But you don’t want to put just any PDF brochure design on the web. If you want to communicate your services or products effectively using a PDF, it must be designed and optimized correctly. Here are some points to consider:
- Optimize the PDF file size: The PDF that is used to print high-quality copies of your brochure is not the one you want to post on the web. You want to make sure you are using a web optimized PDF. Optimized PDFs are much smaller, load faster, and display faster than print-ready PDFs. There is an art and a science to proper PDF optimization which is a balance between image quality, extra features (like thumbnails) and download speeds. This is very important especially for mobil devices. A PDF of your brochure can be optimized in the program that made it (InDesign, Illustrator, Word) to some degree, or it can be optimized using Adobe Acrobat Professional. Acrobat has many options to reduce the file size of a print-ready PDF down to a web-friendly version.
- Consider the design of your brochure and format of PDF: A large format brochure or multi-page brochure with spreads may not translate well in a PDF reader like Adobe Reader. For instance, do any of the pages “spread” across another page? If so, a direct default conversion to PDF from the source might not be what you want. You might have to have your designer output a special PDF with the pages set up as spreads in order to accommodate the layout. But just because a designer offers brochure design services doesn’t mean they know how to optimize it right for the web.
- Consider a specially-designed PDF brochure for your customers to download: It might be best to take your print-ready brochure design and adjust it for optimal reading on the screen, downloading and viewing time, and printability on basic office printers. If you want to communicate with your clients, give them what they need as simply and efficiently as possible!
- Replace your PDF as soon as it’s out-of-date with a an updated copy USING THE SAME FILENAME when you can: I recall many times where I’ve found a PDF brochure or catalog because Google indexed it and it contained information I wanted. And many of those times, it was an ancient PDF from years ago full of outdated information. One clever way to always make sure only one up-to-date version of PDF is indexed by Google is to use the same file name. Don’t post “My Company Product Catalog version-13.pdf” and then post “My Company Product Catalog version-14.pdf”. Either delete the old version, or use one common name all the time like “My Company Product Catalog.pdf” or use clearly delineated dated names like “My Company Product Catalog – Summer 2009.pdf” and then delete them when they are obsolete.
- Make sure your logo design translates well in the PDF on the screen and in print: Depending on the source files for your brochure, your logo might print “fuzzy” or nice and crisp. Your logo should be 1) from a vector source file, and 2) not a “raster” or “bitmap” version that prints fuzzy from a lo-res PDF. Have you printed it? The tagline typography might look great on the expensive paper you chose, but can you read it at the default size the PDF opens up at?
- Think PowerPoint: I know, we all love PowerPoint. But it’s a good paradigm to consider for your brochure when someone opens it up on the web. Is it actually legible or do you force the customer to zoom in and out and resize and whatnot just to be able to read it? You are going to lose the customer if important information is not designed correctly for consumption as a PDF on the web.
The best option, honestly, is to design something specifically for a web-based audience who is likely to print out what they see on the screen. For instance, your print brochure might be heavy on reversed-out type on a dark color. Will your clients appreciate your brochure sucking up their supply of color ink – for just your cover page? It’s small things like this that create an impression on your customers. Your corporate identity is at stake! Carelessly designed PDF brochures, among a zillion other things that contribute to the overall impression your company makes, do matter. Everything you do matters on the web, and make sure you optimize all your media, including PDFs of brochures and catalogs, for the manner in which they will be consumed.