RE: Nielsen frags PDF with misinformative Alertbox... AGAIN!

Subject: RE: Nielsen frags PDF with misinformative Alertbox... AGAIN!
From: "Goldstein, Dan" <DGoldstein -at- DeusTech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 09:23:15 -0400

> Bonnie Granat brightened July 14 with:
<snip> I'm probably a middle-of-the-road on PDFs, but I am amazed that this
> held up as an online design guru when his Web site is so unusable and hard
> read. Who wants to resize the window just to avoid line lengths that are
> of the width of the screen? When did such a thing become good design?

Interesting point. A Web site that was cited as "counter-proof" to Nielsen
(in the message before Bonnie's), is *much* harder to read than Nielsen's
site. I will not identify that PDF-oriented site by name in this message so
as not to harm a fellow writer, but you can find it in the message before
Bonnie's, or else contact me directly.

1. The PDF-oriented site uses frames unnecessarily, and the main frame is
way too wide for an 800x600 user. The design even cuts off the reference to
Keith Soltys' book!

2. I opened a single-page PDF on the site and observed a completely
unnecessary Acrobat interface, which wasted precious real estate to present
content that would have been easier to view in HTML.

3. I opened a multi-page PDF and observed that TOC links do not jump
directly to the topic chosen, but rather to the top of the required page, so
the user has to click the link and then _scroll down_ to find the desired

4. And by the way, the Acrobat-in-frame layout means that the user is always
looking at two pairs of Back/Forward buttons (one pair for the browser, one
pair for Acrobat) -- and they're not even near each other.

Nielsen may yet be wrong about PDF, and the content on the PDF-oriented site
might prove him wrong, but its design makes it darn hard to find that
content. All it proves to me is that PDF is still the best way to print
content reliably -- not to view it online.

Dan Goldstein


sourcing tool for FrameMaker that lets you easily publish your content
online. No macro language required!

Mercer University's online MS Program in Technical Communication Management:
Preparing leaders of tomorrow's technical communication organizations today.
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