The next time you are tempted to post a PDF to your church website, pause for a moment to consider if that's the best way to share the information it contains. The trick is to think like someone using the website, rather than someone posting to it. If your PDF contains a newsletter, for example, you may think of posting it as a PDF because you originally created it to be printed and mailed. Creating a PDF is a quick and easy way to share the same information on the website, right? (Wrong). It is easy for you - the person posting the info - but it is not easy or convenient for the people using the website.

Remember that the purpose of the newsletter is to share information and promote involvement. There is significant planning and preparation being invested in providing the events and ministries promoted through the newsletter... So it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for people to learn about these things.

If you post the newsletter as a PDF, then the website visitor has to 1) find the newsletter link, 2) without knowing what it contains, choose to download it, then 3) open the PDF either in their browser or in a PDF reader. Only then can they begin to learn about the events, ministries and prayer needs. If they happen to be using a smartphone or iPad, the PDF may also be harder to read and navigate.

What's the alternative? If our goal is to make getting to the info fast and easy... The best approach is to repost the info contained in the newsletter as web page content. In other words, each newsletter article is placed on your website as a new web article.

With this approach, a visitor to your website, regardless of the device, can quickly see the full list of announcements without extra steps or having to download and open anything... The content is right there.

There are additional advantages to this approach: 1. If your site has a built-in search engine, web page info is searchable. 2. If your site has a mobile view, the articles will also be formatted for easy viewing. 3. Because the articles are listed (much like a set of blog articles) on your site, people can quickly scan articles and announcements - some who would not take the time and effort to deal with a PDF. This is especially true for visitors who may just be checking out your site to see if they have interest in your church.

When are PDFs appropriate to use on a website? They can be good ways to share forms that need to be printed and signed, or for sharing more complex data such as full budget reports.

But for most information, it is a much better practice to post that content as a web article.

Shameless plug: Faithlab can provide your church or organization with a website that makes this approach fast and easy. Let us know if we can help.

Photo Credit