Downloads and documents
Occasionally, content may be put on the website as PDF files (usually for documents where retaining a fixed layout is important) or as MS Word (for forms, enabling their completion by the user).
Documents such as PDFs and Word can be a quick, handy way to publish content - especially tabulated data. But these formats are much harder for users to access, read or print as they need software other than a free web browser. They must be used then as the last resort, not the first choice, after creating a conventional web page has been ruled out.
- write an introductory web page - the more general content and description you can provide concisely as a web page, the more likely users are to get straight to the documents they need.
- file size ~1MB or less - users will be irritated at having a 5MB file full of graphics, charts or photographs that are not vital to the document. Delete non-relevant graphics to cut down the file size. Aim for files around 1MB or smaller. The file size must be stated on the introductory web page.
- state publication date - helps confirm to the user that they are getting the right information
- state file type - Word, PDF. If possible say which software version was used. Later versions of PDF writers may require users to update readers too.
- delete duplicated content - remove pages in a document that repeat what's already on the website. If it's important, tell the Web Team to cross-link to the page where the content is.
- set up sections to meet users' needs - if most people need just a small part (the rest being of specialist interest), split the document up into components, making it simpler to download and print just what users need. The introductory web page should explain clearly the purpose of each document, and who should read it.
- complete metadata information - when saving a document as a PDF file you should be able to input relevant metadata. This information can be picked up in the site search so will make your document easier to locate.
- don't repeat text in each section - if you have split a document, don't repeat text in its component parts. The site search will index each one, so users may be confused as to which part is relevant. If something really is that important, put it on the introductory web page.
- other formats - these can be considered, but bear in mind that users are much less likely to have the software to view anything unusual. Word, PDF, Excel and Powerpoint are acceptable, anything else is not recommended.
Archiving non-HTML documents (PDF, Word)
Unlike for HTML web pages (where the file on our website is the master document*), content owners who supply Word or PDF files to the Web Team are responsible for maintaining master versions themselves. Whenever these download files need updating, the master version should be edited and then resupplied in full to the Web Team.
*The web page should be assumed to be the master document as it may have been edited slightly during the production process.