You may be surprised to find out that both the PDF and the HTML file formats were born in the same year – 1993. But it is not surprising given that both PDF and HTML are digital formats and 1993 marks the beginning of the digitization of documents and all other forms of content. PDF and HTML simply addressed different digitization needs at a time when a single technology could not solve all digital publishing and information distribution issues.
HTML addressed uniquely the needs of content producers who wanted their documents to be visible and accessible directly on the web. On the other hand, PDF addressed the needs of those content creators who needed precise control over the document design and layout and who also wanted to be able share their documents via email, drives, and other means without compromising their visual designs. In other words, the PDF digital format was pixel perfect and portable, which HTML was not. Hence, even today 85% of all documents accessible via the web are distributed as downloadable PDFs.
Yet, PDF has one major disadvantage – it is static. Users can page through the contents but cannot interact directly with the data in it as they can do with data displayed on web pages. Today, most web content is dynamic and interactive, but PDF remains static. On the other hand, the interactive web content is not portable and cannot be emailed or used offline.
There are some attempts to make PDF visually interactive. Page flipping effects and simple animations make PDFs more lively but with little practical significance as these visual effects do not eliminate the paging through bulky, multi-page PDFs. In todays’ world of information overload long, multi-page PDFs are attention killers. People often ignore them at the risk of missing important information. Storied Data’s enhanced HTML format allows companies to deliver the contents of multi-page PDFs into portable, interactive one-pagers. Information consumers can get the most relevant information with just a few clicks on any device, online or offline.
The static PDF problem is particularly acute in data rich PDFs. It is not uncommon for telecom and bank customers to complain about the usefulness of account statements that are several hundred pages long. Adding visualizations and charts further exacerbates the problem. Because visualizations can be configured to display different combinations of information, the possible combinations significantly increase the page count in the static documents. Large content documents also span hundreds of pages. An interactive navigation is better than a static table of contents as it guides users to get further details within the context of the sections that they are reading. There is no comparison between the table of contents in the old-fashioned, 1000-pages retail catalogues and todays’ interactive product navigation of the web-based retailers. All digital documents should leverage the same true and tried design principles for interactive content navigation. Storied Data interactive documents allows companies to deliver sophisticated data and content interactive experience to engage and delight the information consumers.
In addition to the benefits for the information consumers, there are operational benefits that deliver significant savings to companies.
There are significant computer costs to generate large volumes of personalized PDF documents such as bank statements, telecom and utility bills, personalized offers, circulars, and many more. Storied Data generates 100 times more pixel-perfect, portable HTML documents compared to PDFs per hour. Consider the server costs savings if you have to generate ten million wealth management statements within three business days. What if you have to generate dashboards and reports for ten thousand account executives? Imagine if you can do it in less than 10 minutes. Imagine if you can deliver to each account executive it in a single, personalized document that he or she may query interactively online or offline. Storied Data interactive portable document gives users convenience and flexibility and companies server and query cost savings. Computer power is not just costly. It also has negative environmental impact that all ESG conscious companies want to reduce. Storied Data’s unique interactive format reduces server emissions by lowering the computer power required for document generation and data querying.
The portable interactive HTML is a disruptive alternative to the static PDF because it satisfies the unmet needs to reduce information overload in digital documents, saves significant costs, and delivers positive environmental effect.
To learn more about how to create tailored BI documents, contact us.