The War on PDFs: The Search For Sustainable and Accessible Digital Content

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About this talk

The PDF has been with us for a long time – in fact, Adobe introduced them in 1993, back when there were only 130 websites in existence – and they’ve been an invaluable tool for businesses ever since. The reason for their longevity as a go-to format for digital content is clear: universal compatibility across operating systems, ease of creation and versatility, whether for white papers, product instructions, eCommerce receipts and more besides. Downloadable, storable, sendable. Job done.

Yet many digital experts have been encouraging organisations to ditch PDFs entirely.


Because as we put a greater focus on digital ethics, we can’t overlook that PDFs have a larger digital carbon footprint and are less accessible than their HTML or open document equivalents. They require extra steps and more data to download, leading to higher energy use, cost and emissions, and are very often unable to be read by screen readers or effective for neurodiverse users

Last year, the UK government underlined its commitment to open standards and clearly mandated GOV.UK publishers to provide accessible alternatives to PDFs. And recently introduced requirements for all major businesses to report on their climate risks, including their digital carbon footprints.

But is ditching the PDF entirely what’s best to achieve sustainable, inclusive digital content?

We’ve worked with industry experts and users with disabilities to truly understand the best way to deliver accessible, engaging content online, marrying it together with our user-centered design thinking to find an optimal approach. Join our webinar to learn why PDFs might still have a future and gain critical insights into how viewing Content Design through the lens of digital inclusion and sustainability can deliver both fantastic user experience and ESR success.


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