Tip: Don’t annoy your readers by attaching useless PDFs

We’re all busy people, right?

My credo when writing up information is answer questions before they’re asked.
Send your users information that will save them having to do searches for information on their own, and they’ll love you for it! Attach useless PDFs and they’ll be annoyed.

Here’s an example of what NOT to do.
My apartment complex does an awesome thing: they arrange to have a food truck come every Thursday to our location in the ‘burbs. And on Wednesdays and Thursdays, they send us email reminders about said food truck.

There’s a PDF attached. Every week I think, YAY they’ve attached the menu for the food truck! how considerate of them! But every time I get disappointed, because this is what’s attached. It’s exactly the same information as what was in the message.

Now I’ve wasted time and effort opening a PDF with no helpful information. Well actually, let’s see what happens when we type in the link in the PDF (another bad UI thing, it’s not a live link).

Well here is the list of upcoming food trucks. Oh and there are links. Let’s see what happens. Well LOOKEE HERE! here’s the menu PDF. And it only took me having to:

  • open the useless PDF
  • open a new tab
  • type out the URL from the useless PDF
  • click on another link to get it!

Another option (if they for some reason can’t attach the menu PDF) is put a link TO the menu PDF in the email!

Don’t annoy your users by making them work too hard to get info you could easily give them!

I wrote the management of my apartment complex and suggested they attach the menu pdf, and they replied “oh it’s not that hard to find it, they just have to type in the URL and go to that page.” My response was, “but how would they know that the menu PDF is hidden behind that link (and then another one?) They didn’t reply to that, but the next week, the actual menu PDF was attached to the food truck email! And I made sure to thank them for doing that! 🙂

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