By Dominic Jones
Over the years of reviewing thousands of investor relations websites I’ve developed a strange condition. There’s a pronounced tick in my neck that forces my chin to jab down to the left like a chicken pecking at corn.
This physical oddity is due to one thing. And chances are you’re partly responsible.
The cause of my strange habit is, wait for it, unmarked links to PDF documents.
It’s true, something seemingly so inconsequential has given me a new and serious malaise.
I developed this involuntary reflex as a result of constantly looking down at the status bar in the bottom-left corner of my browser program – you know, the area of the browser that most often says “Done.”
I do this each time I am about to click a link on an IR website. And since I spend most of my time viewing IR websites, that’s a lot of links and a lot of neck bending.
Over the years I must have wasted hundreds of hours due to links that unexpectedly opened documents in PDF. In fact, 55% of the sites I’ve reviewed in the past six months don’t tell you when you’re linking to PDFs.
PDF documents slow down my ability to navigate investor relations websites. When the PDF viewer starts whirring away, I’m mostly unable to do anything else until the document has loaded. That can be a quite a few seconds, depending on how big the file is and how it is formatted.
Add all those seconds up — a few here, a few there — and you quickly get minutes, and minutes turn into hours, and so on. Pretty soon, I’m unable to squeeze in as many reviews in a day as I would like.
|Some of the links on this page go to PDF downloads, but users cannot tell which ones.|
So to save time, I’ve developed this habit of looking down at the status bar to check each link’s address for “.pdf” at the end.
|My strategy is to hover over a link and then glance down at the extension in the status bar. This survival tactic should be unnecessary if companies indicated PDF and other downloads properly.|
Now I wouldn’t have people looking at me strangely in supermarket checkout lines if companies took the time to tell me when links go to PDFs.
Just put this after the link: (PDF). Better yet, tell me how big the file is so I know ahead of time: (PDF 300 KB, 45 pages).
There, how hard is that?
Please do this in future because it’s a big pain in the neck for me and your shareholders when you don’t.
P.S. I’m interested to know if any of you have developed the same browsing behavior to contend with blind links to PDFs. Use the comments form below to tell your story.