Home Insights & Advice Are PDF files still relevant in 2022?

Are PDF files still relevant in 2022?

by John Saunders
23rd Nov 21 11:15 am

PDF files are still relevant, but to a much lesser degree than they used to be. Nowadays, many people don’t need them because they can do just about anything in their browser or with an app. They’re still important for things like legal documents and academic papers that require signatures, but PDF files are being used increasingly less amongst average device users.

However, even with recent developments in technology, are PDF files still relevant? While PDF files are becoming less popular among younger generations, there are many reasons why they will be around for a while yet. Here are some key points to consider about these types of files.

Why are PDFs losing popularity?

The PDF format has been with us for nearly 30 years – in that time, little has changed about the document format. One of the biggest complaints about PDF files throughout history was the tediousness of working with them.

Up until 2008, PDFs were a proprietary format and required expensive software to work with them, until Adobe made the decision to open source the format. Nowadays you can use a number of tools to convert PDF to Word or other document types, but only a few reasons exist to use PDF in the first place.

While Adobe Acrobat is no longer necessary for creating and editing PDF files, their functionality as a universal document format has been made a bit obsolete with newer technologies, such as cloud-based document sharing and digital signatures.

There are a number of exact reasons that PDF files are losing popularity amongst the general populace, which include:

Ebook file types have better accessibility features

For a long time, PDF files were the most popular way to share e-books, whether they were originally written on a computer, or scanned from a physical book. However, there are numerous ebook file types today that have much better features when it comes to accessibility and formatting, such as EPUB.

PDFs are not designed for mobile

PDFs were designed for desktop operating systems, and one of their main advantages on a desktop platform – keeping uniform text and formatting across pages – can be a problem when viewed on a mobile device.

You cannot increase PDF font sizes or change margins on a mobile device and PDFs are frequently sized incorrectly when opened. It’s a headache for mobile users to pinch-zoom when reading a PDF on a mobile device, and dragging the page around while zoomed in is just inconvenient.

Businesses can’t collect user data from PDF

Online businesses are using data analytics tools more than ever, intensely studying user behavior for every website page, app time, video clicks, and more. PDFs pose a significant problem to data analytics because the files are downloaded locally.

Big data cannot be collected from PDFs for analyzing metrics like user engagement, how many pages were read, and all of the other metrics that businesses would use to optimize user experience.

Thus, while e-books are still a popular digital marketing strategy, the PDF format is not ideal. Many digital marketers are switching to eBook formats with built-in tracking codes that let data analytics software collect information.

Where is the PDF format still popularly used?

While we said PDFs are losing popularity amongst mainstream consumers, the file format still has plenty of uses for business. PDFs are still widely used by law firms and large corporations, where file formats like Word and Excel are not commonly used. They are also popular for redacting information on a medical record, for invoices, and much more.

The benefits of PDF files as designed for desktop platforms still hold true today, the fact that PDF files can easily be shared between many device types, and easily printed with the tap of a button.

While online technologies like cloud document sharing and digital signatures have become popular, PDFs are still the best choice for sending and receiving important documents with ease. In fact, even if a legal document is sent to you through a cloud storage platform, it’s most likely you’ll download it as a PDF file for printing a physical copy.

Plus, there really isn’t much reason to replace the PDF format in these business use cases – it’s a bit like the MP3 file, which has been the industry standard for digital audio files for years, even as newer technologies have become available.

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