Who Loves Uploading Files?
With more than seven years of experience working with Georgia’s state agencies on their websites, one thing I’ve noticed is that state agencies love paperwork. This carries over to the web as an abundance of downloadable files. PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations abound.
This unfortunately translates poorly on websites; they have a larger file size than the same content on a web page, search engines don’t index them as well, and many mobile devices cannot load them properly. Users are also more likely to look at information presented on a web page than they are to download that information as a file (such as a PDF). In fact, the federal Information Sharing Environment (ISE) recently reported that their analytics showed they had more unique visits to the web version of their 2013 Annual Reportin the first month than the total number of downloads of their 2012 Annual Report PDF over an entire year. Leah T. Bannon, contract support to the Office of the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) added,
An additional benefit is that because we divided the major sections of the report into separate [web] pages, we can also track people's behavior and interest in each section (which ones are most popular, have the highest bounce rates, etc.).
We recently ran a content audit for a state agency that had over 300 HTML pages, but more than 4,000 files attached to their site. Some of these files were more than 10 years old. I won’t name names, but I wonder just how many state agencies will think I’m talking about them?
At Digital Services Georgia, we advocate a less is more approach to your web content, and ask you to think before you upload more files to your site. We also understand that there are times when it’s necessary to make documents available. But they can get out of control very quickly.