You’ve been there. Stuck in traffic or on the train, desperately trying to figure out where the event you’re going to is located, who’s speaking when (or maybe even how to get to the room where you’re scheduled to speak!), who you’re supposed to be meeting there, and maybe even what’s for lunch. In an attempt to answer all these questions, you check out the event website on your mobile phone. The thoughtfully designed site has a really great Flash video on the first page (but no mention of the event time or location) and a lot of links to… dun dun dun… PDFs!
Aaagh! The PDF monster strikes again! So you download ten PDFs on your phone in a vain attempt to figure out just what’s going on at this conference. You painstakingly page through each PDF, zooming in and zooming out, and after plenty of struggle, perhaps your initial question about the event is answered. But now you have a new question burning inside you: why do event organizers make it so damn hard to find out basic event information?
There are plenty of reasons event information ends up in PDF. Perhaps the organizers are accustomed to using PDFs and assume you’ll plan ahead and download and print all the PDFs well before the event (ha!). For an event organizer who may have limited access to update the event website (a big problem in itself), cutting, pasting, creating, and uploading a PDF may be the fastest and easiest way to manage the information that’s flying in from multiple sources in multiple formats. And PDF does work (if not all that well, or conveniently) on most devices. Everyone knows it’s really not the best solution, but it may be the fastest and easiest one at the time–at least for the organizers.
But not for the attendees. I’d wager that few people, other than some highly print-oriented folks (whose assistants might be printing everything out for them anyway), really want all of their event information in PDF. Most people just want to find all the basics (date, time, location, keynote speakers) on the event homepage, and access details on specific sessions in just a click or two. Make it easy for everyone with a mobile optimized event website. No PDF download, no mobile app download. Just the information, formatted for mobile, easy to access well in advance or at the last minute. Start creating your mobile event website now. And you can even upload supplementary PDFs in their own category for the print-oriented. Everyone will thank you for releasing event information from the PDF monster’s clutches.