Research Reports

What if the solutions to all our problems are buried in PDFs that nobody reads?

Nonprofits, foundations, think tanks and other NGOs produce a lot of reports. They study poverty, housing, education, climate change, global health, social justice, and every other aspect of society and the world.  And for the last 20 years the default way to share their research and recommendations with other professionals, policy makers and the public has been to produce a report and post the PDF on the web. And while it’s better than mailing out hardcopies, it’s time for a change.



What’s Wrong with PDFs?

PDF was designed to mimic a printed page.
Report Kitchen was designed for digital storytelling.

  PDF Report Kitchen

Icon - Mobile Mobile

Pinch-and-zoom frustration

Fully responsive, mobile-first design.

Icon - InteractivityInteractivity

None. Ok maybe some links.

Video, data visualization, interactive map, calculators, polls & surveys, reader feedback, data/template file downloads, and much more...

Icon - Social Sharing
Social Sharing

Readers can only share the whole report, and their followers get sent to the cover page. Readers can share any page, section or figure they choose, and their followers are sent directly to the content they shared.

Icon - AccessibilityAccessibility

Usually can be read ok, although multi-column text is sometimes read straight across which is almost unusable.

Full WCAG 2.0 and U.S Section 508 compliance.

Icon - AnalyticsAnalytics

You get a single count of downloads.

Page-by-page Google Analytics reports (or your preferred alternative), which help you identify the content that interests and engages your readers the most.

Icon - SEO

Readers typically only get one result in Google for your entire document, and it looks funny, with no useful context.

And no matter what they searched for, they're sent to the cover page.

Normal-looking results in search engines, complete with accurate page titles and useful context.

Clicking takes you right to the relevant page.

Icon - Edits & Updates
Edits & Updates

Call up the designer. Reflow all the pages.

Track down everywhere you posted the PDF and tell them you have an update.

Easy-to-use content management system.

Log in, make your change, hit save.

We... borrowed... the catchy title of this page from a blog post about a report by the World Bank which found nearly a third of their report PDFs had never even been downloaded once.  While not all of those reports were necessarily intended to reach a very broad audience, the fact remains -- publishing only as PDF severely limits the usability, and thus the reach, and thus the impact, of large report documents.