Given most content starts its life in WORD, that is where it tends to stay or it is saved as PDF in order to stop users from editing it. I love WORD for editing and printing and there’s no better toolset for authoring content. However, when it comes to publishing and viewing formats, we need to change our practises and move content to HTML.
The paradigm shift I am after is for users to believe that their WORD and PDF content should actually be published as HTML. Here is the reasoning:
- Accessibility or WCAG 2.1 AA compatibility
WORD and PDF document types are not good formats (generally speaking) to be hosted in web sites for users using assistive technologies. Although WORD and PDF are not mutually exclusive when it comes to being accessibility friendly, HTML makes it easier to comply with accessibility requirements.
- Responsive design & mobile device compatibility
WORD and PDF document types are not responsive in design and therefore can be difficult to read on small form factor devices. Have you ever opened a WORD or PDF document on your phone? You are probably zooming in and out a swiping around the page just to read it normally.
- WORD and PDF are print formats, not viewing formats
WORD and PDF document types are paginated document types and therefore best for printing – let’s be honest, we all want to print less and I’m advocating for a fit-for-purpose approach. This may mean that the printable version of the same formats is still available in WORD and PDF formats however publishing to HTML for viewing makes more sense!
- HTML layouts are more flexible to support supplementary material
HTML pages may contain related links or references to other web references. Strictly speaking, WORD and PDF may contain links as well but with HTML they can reside in content areas on the page that are outside of the body to the text. In essence, the layout of the page is more flexible.
- Faster load times (for large documents)
If the WORD or PDF document is large, it may be slower to load than a HTML version of the same content. The reason for this is that the entire document needs to downloaded before the user can read the document.
- Interactivity and mixed content
- No attachment to bloat your email
Sharing of a web URL seems simpler than emailing the WORD/PDF documents and doesn’t bloat email mailboxes. Yes, there’s always an option to share the WORD and PDF documents with user as a link (assuming security is not a concern) but the default practice is to email copies of the WORD/PDF documents around.
- Single source of truth using HTML
It could be argued that HTML enforces a single source of truth where WORD and PDFs attachment may cause multiple versions to exists. Given HTML forces the users to go to the content instead of the content potentially being sent to them, you can guarantee users are seeing the single source of the truth with HTML and not potentially an older version of the WORD/PDF document.
In summary, I am sure many of the reasons I have stated could be argued one-way or another and I am not precious about being corrected. I see myself as an advocate for fit-for-purpose processes. Where it makes sense for content to live in WORD or PDF, fine, leave it there.
However, too often, these formats are where the thinking ends even though this thinking needs to be challenged. I am hoping this may make you think about the final published destination for your content.
My fear is that users believe that it’s just too difficult to create HTML and they decide that WORD and PDF are “good enough”, I hope I am wrong and we can start the paradigm shift to improved HTML publishing.
Live Publish – a solution to easy HTML publishing in SharePoint
If you are reading this thinking that HTML publishing is too difficult, please consider our WORD to HTML add-in. This is available from the Microsoft Office Store at (Live Publish)
For more information, please contact us at https://www.qualitem.com/contact-us