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Webmaster General Forum

site design options
and drawbacks

 2:58 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

An interesting problem has recently been given to me by two clients. I built the web sites for both clients & I do the marketing which is going very well & getting great traffic (wipes sweat from head)

Both clients have very informative sites which do show a large collection of the various services and products they offer, the problem they have is people requesting brochures, even though the pictures/information is on the site and it's costing them quite a lot to send packs of brochures around the uk.

What options are there?

I've thought of maybe PDF files giving people the chance to download the brochure and view off line, but would people do this? Has anyone used adobe for this purpose?

There is of course external links to the manufacturers sites but I don't like doing that, as you may loose the visitor (even if you have them opening in another window).

Has anyone had a similar problem and if so how did you overcome visitors completing forms requesting brochures.

I think the problem is, most people other than us internet junkies like to pick something up & read it or see just how the kitchen/bathroom will look in that room and most (us not included of course) don't have pc's in the kitchen/bedroom.

Roll on the day when a microwave door has pc monitor interface, oooohh that's sad :)



 6:29 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've thought of maybe PDF files giving people the chance to download the brochure and view off line, but would people do this? Has anyone used adobe for this purpose?

The pdf manuals and spec sheets my employer has on his site are very popular. As to whether people are printing them for offline reading, I don't know. We don't get too many requests for specific printed product literature though.


 7:56 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've never used adobe acrobat so perhaps it's time to get my head around the program. I've got version 4 anyone familiar with it and it's pitfalls

I don't know if this is the answer, but it's option for my client and I suppose it beats having to spend £££'s on sending brochures out, all I have to work out now is just how much to charge for them for scanning in god knows how many brochures.


 8:27 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

You can scan directly into Acrobat... makes it a bit easier to deal with.

Also... if your clients get their products from various manufacturers and distributors, you can find out if the product manufacturers, etc., have original pdf docs for the brochures. A number of our product suppliers do... saved me a TON of time putting the site together! :)


 8:38 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

Google now indexes PDF docs.. We had a big jump on Google referrals when they started doing that. PDF always had a big following amongst academia and traditional publishers. New alliances are making it more of a mainstream standard. Also helping is that Adobe has made the technology freely available so you no longer need the proprietry Distiller etc. to create files - this helps.

The key is not to use it as something that is viewed and manipulated on the Web, it is too cluncky for that. But it is the best solution if people are going to print out something and read it later.


 8:50 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)


Thats along the lines I was thinking of, but would people download it?

I know people get very gittery about downloading things from the internet and would it really achieve the end result which would hopefully stop bulk requests for brochures.

I think the problem is people still like to hold and feel shiney brochures and other than making the surfer be more specific when completing the enquirey form so hopefully to narrow down the request.

but so far pdf is the only solution


 9:01 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

We have 50-75 PDF files on the corporate site - Annual Reports, SEC filings and Technical Data Sheets. It saves Customer Service time and as Chiyo said, the docs are indexed by Google.

We're training our clients by referring them to the web site for specific information. I keep a link to the Acrobat Reader on each page listing PDF files.

The conversion process is easy. The files are sent to me as Word docs, which I save as PDF files. (Acrobat works seamlessly within Word.) One point: Make sure you save as a non-editable file, to protect the data from tampering.


 9:15 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

thanks for all the advice


 9:20 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think pdf or printable web pages are the only real solution to bypassing physical distribution. However, it should be noted that your clients will lose some potentially valuable contact/marketing information unless you take the visitor through some sort of registration process.

I know of one real estate company that responds via email and asks permission to send attachments. It works well AND opens a dialog with the potential client.


 5:45 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

interesting developments during the day, the other-arf (Mrs website designer) uses another forum (yes, there are others,not as good as this one of course, creep creep) more to do with flash/design and she posted a similar posting, someone came back with this

>PDF is probably the easiest route aswell.

You will be able to covert it straight from the original brochure (if there is an original). Just get the printers to send a quark document to you or ask them to export the quark doc to PDF and you can put it straight up there. It is very very quick for you.

And for the end user it is pretty simple. I use them quite a lot. And even thought they do have a few bad points, on the whole they are very good. You just need to put a link to Adobe saying that they can download free Acrobat Reader if they don't have it already to view the file.

Be careful og file size though. Depending on your end user and the size of the doc, they can take a little while to download...and you know attention spans!

anyone have any thoughts on this, as I'm now completely on unknown ground


 6:03 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

We've used Quark to generate PDFs for a bit over a year now. Quark has it's share of ups and downs, and it's support (as far as we can tell using NT 4.0) for PDF has been known to be ...errr.... quirky. However, once the PDF has been created, it is, of course, no different then any other PDF, really. Quark has improved it's PDF support in its latest version (you used to have to download a plugin to do PDFs.)

We have several PDFs on our web site, pretty much all over a 1Meg in size, but none over 2. They tend to be quite popular and we've received no complaints about download times. (Though I'll admit receiving complaints, and people being frustrated with download times are two different things...) ;)


 6:50 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

I generally either import an HTML page directly into Acrobat, or I create the document in InDesign and export it directly to PDF format...

Some of our pdf files are very small, some are quite huge, and I've never heard a negative comment about any of them. One of our most popular pages is an interactive PDF form.

All in all, I see a lot of traffic to the pdfs on our site. Since the Reader plug-in is VERY common these days, I dont' think most visitors will have a problem.


 3:03 pm on Apr 27, 2001 (gmt 0)

Although pdfs have their uses, they are the wrong media for things that will be viewed primarily in a web browser. They are mainly a way to easily get something that was initially intended for paper online. The disadvantage of them is that they don't have markup. The markup is supposed to indicate the meaning of the data that is encoded. Pdfs are only for display. In the future, the data on the web will be used for a lot more than just display of info.

Has anyone got Google to rate a PDF file well for any set of keywords?


 3:15 pm on Apr 27, 2001 (gmt 0)


I don't think you fully realize what I'm trying to achieve, my clients are trying find ways of cutting down postage of brochures, so I'm looking into options & one thought was PDF as a way of downloading brochures to view off line


 4:00 pm on Apr 27, 2001 (gmt 0)

That's an appropriate use of pdfs.


 4:57 pm on Apr 27, 2001 (gmt 0)

Not sure if this is new to Acrobat 5 or not, but it now supports XML.

Quoting from their FAQ:

"Support for the eXtensible Markup Language (XML)—Through support for XML, Acrobat 5.0 now makes it simple to integrate data, such as metadata or forms data in Adobe PDF files, with back-end systems. In addition, users can create tagged Adobe PDF files that preserve document structure to enable both the easy re-use of content and ability to make documents more accessible to users with disabilities."

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