Why use this approach?
A webpage is the best way to share information online
If you're sharing information online, the best format for the end user is a webpage:
- the content reflows to match the user's device
- the content will load faster, as the user can read the content while images and assets are downloaded (whereas a PDF needs to be fully downloaded before a user can read any of it)
- you can break the content up into separate pages and connect them through hyperlinks, so the user does not feel overwhelmed
- you can take advantage of the power of CSS to offer features like a dark mode
This website aims to demonstrate these benefits:
- the content is responsive, so the user does not need to scroll in two directions to read the content, regardless of their device
- on mobile devices, there is a 'sticky' navigation menu that stays at the top of the screen, so people don't need to look for the navigation if they are on a long page.
- the website uses a dark colour scheme for users who have set their system preference to prefer it.
For longform content, a print option is useful
If your content is long, or designed to be read in a specific order, then a 'print PDF' option can be useful for users.
Some users may prefer to print out the document and read it, especially if they are not comfortable reading on a screen.
If your content has many different sections, then a well-formatted PDF that has everything the user needs in one place, can be a great experience for the user.
A big part of accessibility is making sure people can access the information in their preferred way. So offering different formats is good for accessibility!
Maintaining multiple versions of a document is hard
If you are publishing a document in multiple formats (eg. a print document designed in InDesign, a Microsoft Word version and HTML content to be inserted into a CMS), it can be difficult to keep each version up to date. If a content change needs to be made, you might need to change it in three places.
By generating multiple formats from the same source of truth, we can be sure that any content changes automatically come through to the generated output.