You might be thinking this post is about the quality of your writing or how professional your design is. But it’s not. I’m specifically talking about whether the content you’re sharing can be read or viewed by someone on a different computer or a mobile device. It’s going to get a little technical.

When we develop websites at Infusionmedia, we develop with content marketing in mind, so we expect our clients to upload documents and files to share with site visitors. We’re strong believers in the power of useful, relevant content to build trust, authority, and qualified leads.

But we’ve found that our clients aren’t always sharing things that are easily accessible. If a file isn’t accessible, it’s useless—and we’re all about making things useful around here.

Among the problems we’ve come across, there are two that stand out from the rest. One is more easily solved than the other.

Low-Resolution Content

You’ve had this happen to you. You open up an image or a PDF, and the resolution is so bad, it’s barely readable and hard to decipher. Sometimes this happens when “lossy” resolution files like JPEGs are resaved over and over. Sometimes it’s a poorly done scan of a printed document.

An image or document that you can’t read reflects badly on the source. If your website is the source, that reflects badly on you and your brand.

Make sure that you scan documents at 300 dpi or 600 dpi when they’re black and white with no grayscale (also called lineart). This may fly in the face of what you’ve heard. It’s true: The web only requires 72 dpi. But when people are reading a document on-screen or intending to print it out (it happens), better to stick with the higher resolution. If you’ve created the document in a program on your computer, make sure the resolution is 300 or 600.

You might also make sure that your scan is straight to the edges of the photo frame. If it’s supposed to be tilted, does the tilting make sense? Can you still read or understand the important parts of the image?

What if your file is already low res and hard to read? I hate to tell you this, but there’s little hope of making it better. In my early graphic designer years, I spent hours and hours cleaning up low-res logos and graphics for print ads and collateral. In those days, it wasn’t JPEGs being saved over and over, it was progressively poor quality photocopies being made over and over. You do not want to spend the time trying to fix this problem (and likely failing). You want to get it right the first time.

Will High-Res Content Add to My Site’s Load Time?

It will if you don’t compress it. We recommend using the Compress app from HugyApps (there’s likely a Windows equivalent out there) or ShortPixel, a WordPress plugin. Both work well to compress and optimize images without unacceptable quality loss.

Fonts Not Embedded in PDFs

The next time you open a PDF on your smartphone or on your computer and it looks like gobbledygook or a potential virus, it might be because the fonts used in the document weren’t embedded in the PDF.

Below is a good example. Why does it look like this? The person who created the PDF by exporting it from its source program forgot to embed the fonts.

Example of font not being embedded in PDF
The two fonts that were used in this PDF weren’t on my mobile phone, so this is what it looked like.

There is only one reason you wouldn’t want to embed a font. You don’t hold a license for the font and are not legally allowed to embed it. That’s understandable—and good on you for protecting the rights of type designers. But if you want everyone to be able to read it, you need to change the font to something you can legally embed.

In the above example, the source document was probably made in Microsoft Word because the fonts used—Calibri and Calibri Bold—are Microsoft fonts. I have Microsoft Office, so I have access to both fonts and was able to open it on my laptop. But when I tested the PDF on my mobile phone, well, you can see the result.

Most mobile devices are not going to be able to read a PDF without embedded fonts. And more people than you think don’t have Office or Word on their computers, so they won’t be able to read it, either. With much of your web traffic coming from mobile (I can almost guarantee it’s a significant percentage, and it continues to trend higher), you do not want this to happen to your content.

If you created the PDF, you know what to do. Make sure “embed fonts” is active when you export the PDF.

If you weren’t the one to create the PDF, I have a possible solution for you.

  1. Open up the PDF in Affinity Designer (this will probably work with Adobe Illustrator and may work with Google Drive/Google Docs). Open all pages if there is more than one page.
  2. Export each page as its own PDF. (Designer offers a “whole document” option, but I haven’t tested that yet, so I go page by page.)
  3. Open the first exported page in Adobe Acrobat and add back in the remaining exported pages in proper order.
  4. Save as a new PDF.
  5. Test by opening on your mobile device or computer. If all has gone as it should, you will be able to read it.

Happy sharing!

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