One of the great things about today's internet, is that there are so many ways to build out a website. For new businesses that are trying to get off the ground, spending as little as possible, building a new website can be an expensive and time consuming process. Depending on the type of business you are starting, you've probably already started designing your logo and begun creating a brochure that that outline your products or services. Or you may already have hired a designer to do this for you. Often the question will come up - if I've got this brochure already, why don't I just post that on my website instead of building out webpages? It has all the information my visitors need. It's just one file they have to download. It's the perfect idea right?
What is the point of having a website anyway?
A common and simple mistake that a lot of business people make is to forget the purpose of having a website. In most cases, the point is to make it quick and easy for your visitors to find your business and learn what you have to offer in a way that is easy and convenient for them; so as to inspire these visitors to become your customer. Well, most people have PDF viewers installed on their computers right? Downloading a PDF is easy. Opening a PDF file is easy. The information in a PDF is often easy to read. I'm saving money, this sounds like the perfect solution!
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
That's it right there.
A PDF file is not intended nor designed to replace websites but it is an excellent tool to have available for visitors that might want to download and print off some information about your business to use for meetings or as part of their research etc. PDF are usually meant for printing, and files that have a lot of information can be quite large. Also, there are some devices that do not come with PDF viewers or the PDF viewer is limited in features. Mobile users may not want to download large files and use up their data transfer without knowing what the file contains. Even more daunting, a lot of people have security software such as anti-virus that may inhibit downloads or make it difficult to find documents like PDFs once they've downloaded them.
A website, on the other hand, is (usually) much more efficient at sharing information across a wide variety of computers and mobile devices. To get to a PDF your visitors would first have get to at least a homepage on your website. Since they are already there, if you had a full website, they could simply click on what was interesting to them. If you have a contact page they can quickly fill out a form, send an email, or possibly even click your phone number to give you a call. Taking it further, websites can give you information about your traffic. How many people visit your website each month? What are their favourite pages? How long do they stay there? Do they come in from a search engine, and if so, what were they searching for? This just scratches the surface of what websites can do that PDF files cannot.
A PDF is an excellent way to provide people with content about your business in a nice, downloadable, printable format. It is not a great way to market your business on the internet. For that, a properly built website with good quality hosting and support, plus a good online marketing plan (Pay Per Click, search engine optimization, Blogs, etc.) will take you a lot further.