Marco Schueller is right to point out that bandwidth is still an issue – though I think this continues to affect desktop-internet to some extent, not just mobile-internet. In many areas here in the UK, at least, broadband is still only up to 2MB max, not the superfast 20MB version available in cities. And in a very few places, broadband is still not available at all.
The large file-sizes that he points out (10MB-11.6MB) would indeed take a while to download.
Of course, downloading the entire file isn’t always what visitors want to do. Many companies offer indexed versions, so that the desired parts of the document – such as the financial statements – can be selected for download. Some offer the option to add individual sections or pages to a print/download basket, or to be collated into a single PDF; usually this is from within the online annual report. BMW is an example of this service; I was intrigued to notice that BMW suggested additional sections of the report that might be of interest to me, along the lines of Amazon’s well-known cross-marketing software.
A few – very few – offer a printer-friendly version of the complete annual report (see Standard Life, for example), which seems like a good idea. After all, we don’t really need the decorative images, although they do help to convey the corporate brand and messaging. One option that Deutsche Post uses is a print-page facility, so without the background and purely decorative graphics, but with the additional option to print with/without images. (Of course, it would take a long time to print the whole report like this, so a print-whole-report facility like this would be great).
Does this mean a company should come up with three versions in addition to the online annual report? One for hard-copy glossy print, one lightweight for download and one for individuals to print out on their desktop printers? Or more: large-print, audio, braille…
Once the hard work of developing the annual report is done, I think a lightweight version and a printer-friendly version should be relatively straightforward. I’m excluding the online annual report here; I know that’s a significant piece of work. And I can see that versions in alternative formats are also a significant exercise. But I think that providing multiple options for the reports serves the needs of different visitors, such as those who want:
- to download the full-on beautiful version with lots of images and graphics
- to download quickly to browse off-line
- to download and print the information (no images)
- to download key sections only
- an accessible version
- and not forgetting those who want to order a hard copy.
And that, surely, is user-friendly.
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