On June 15th, 1993, the PDF was invented by Adobe to solve the challenges of document formatting. From that day forth, Adobe has ruled the category, and PDFs have been the unchallenged standard.
Anytime you need to ensure that a document looks and functions the same way for everyone who views it, your first choice is a PDF. In the digital realm, PDFs are the closest thing to physical paper.
Whether you’re creating forms, eBooks, whitepapers, or graphics, at some point, you’ll need to use a PDF. Using any other format will increase the chances of your file losing its intended formatting. Text, images, and form fields… without a PDF, there’s no guarantee that they’ll look how you need them to when you publish or share them.
PDFs are easier to use than other documents as well. They eliminate the need for the receiver to have the same device, operating system, or viewing software. Anyone one, regardless of their tech setup, can interact with a PDF exactly as the creator intended.
The Purpose of Annotations
PDFs are intended to maintain the formatting of a document, and this makes them more tricky to edit than, say, a Word Document. While only users with PDF editing software like Adobe Acrobat can make edits to the entire document, anyone can leave annotations and feedback.
Annotations come in many forms, but they all share the same purpose — making it possible for users to leave feedback on a PDF. Most PDF viewers allow the creation and editing of a variety of annotations, such as text highlights, sticky notes, lines, shapes, etc.
What Makes A Good PDF Editor?
Not all PDF editors are created equal. The most commonly used PDF editors are the free PDF Readers like Adobe Reader, Apple iBooks, Windows Reader, etc. These tools are designed to allow you to read PDF files like you would a book. You can flip pages, search the book, highlight text, and even leave basic annotations.
Those who need more features use professional PDF editing apps like Adobe Acrobat. PDF editors operate like Office apps and allow you to change and edit any aspect of a PDF. Text, images, form fields, link – you name it, they can do it.
The King of PDF Editors: Adobe Acrobat
As we said earlier, Adobe Acrobat is the industry standard and has been the king since 1993. Adobe Acrobat offers just about every tool you'd ever need when editing PDFs. Adding text, updating tables, inserting images, and leaving feedback using its range of annotations are possible – and so much more.
While Adobe Acrobat's reputation and features have allowed it to dominate the market for the last 2 decades, it is far from perfect. The fact that Adobe Acrobat is the most used solution doesn't mean it's the best solution for all users and use cases.
A clear example of this is Adobe's Annotation feature. For most users, Adobe's annotation feature is intuitive, easy, and reliable. We'll even go so far as to say that for most users, Adobe's Annotation features are the best on the market.
The catch is… if you're a business that produces large volumes of graphics or documents, Adobe Acrobat's annotation tools are far from ideal. What's more surprising is, you've probably been using these features without ever realizing that they're hurting your productivity.
We know that may sound crazy, but stick with us…
Before we reveal WHY Adobe’s Annotation features are holding you back, let's do a quick refresh on how they work. For this example, let’s focus on the most popular annotation features among Adobe Acrobat users – the sticky note.
How Sticky Notes Work In Adobe
In Adobe, sticky notes are a form of annotation that allows you to leave a note icon that appears on the PDF and displays a text message when clicked or hovered over. You can add a sticky note anywhere on the page or in the document area.
As a rule, Adobe allows you to make one comment per sticky note. If you have multiple comments to make, you have to leave multiple sticky notes scattered throughout the PDF document you’re working on.
Once you’re done adding your sticky notes, you can export/download the PDF and share it with the rest of your team.
If you’re working on a project that has several revision cycles, you and your team will pass multiple versions of the PDF back and forth, adding comments each time. By the end of each version, the PDFs are littered with sticky notes.
Whenever you’re sent a new version, you have to go through and click or hover over each sticky note in the document. The only way to sort through the feedback is by opening, reading, and closing each sticky note.
As you can imagine, this can be tedious and confusing. What’s more confusing is that the sticky notes will often be a mix of old comments and new comments, so there’s no way for you to skip past the old notes when reviewing them.
How Sticky Notes Work In WebProof
WebProof, on the other hand, was designed from the ground up to reduce wasted time and resources. Every feature, no matter how small, was crafted to help teams to boost their productivity and performance.
The way that sticky notes operate in WebProof is proof of that. While many would consider sticky notes a minute feature, with little impact on overall operations — our founders saw them differently.
As we outlined earlier, using sticky notes in Adobe is messy, confusing, and slow. You are limited to the number of comments you can leave in each note. You're also limited as to how many people can edit the document at the same time.
Neither of those is the case with WebProof’s sticky note feature.
When leaving sticky notes in WebProof, you’re able to make multiple comments in each sticky note to prevent your PDFs from being scattered with dozens of sticky notes. This feature also makes it easier to sort through and process feedback.
Beyond multi-comment sticky notes, WebProof also allows multiple users to leave and reply to feedback in one document, at the same time. This means that everyone will have a clear, accurate understanding of the review process.
Additionally, this feature reduces the number of versions created during the process and the number of emails too. With Adobe, it's not possible for everyone to work on the same document at the same time. The only way to share feedback is to comment, download, and share a new version via email.
Why Adobe’s Features Are Holding You Back
Now that we’ve covered the differences between the design and functionality of annotation features, it’s time to cover the most important part — how their design affects your productivity and performance.
The easiest way to understand this is to put it into numbers.
Imagine for a minute that you run a company that has a strong need for graphics and content. Let's say your company handles 10,000 of these projects per year, and during each project, you create 5 versions of a PDF.
These projects are handled by your team, and your team leaves, on average 5 sticky notes on each version of a PDF. In a single project, they'd be creating and reviewing 25 sticky notes.
Extrapolate that over a year, and your team has created and reviewed 250,000 sticky notes throughout 10,000 projects. Each sticky note that is created and reviewed takes up time, and time isn't free.
Your company is paying for every hour of that time, which bloats production costs and reduces bottom-line profits. If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll want to reduce that time to a minimum. After all, every hour you save is extra profit in your pocket.
This is where the difference between the design of features is significant. Based on our experience, WebProof users can reduce their production time by 35 – 50%.
If you were to compare the time that it'd take to complete 10,000 of these projects in Adobe to the time, it takes to do so in WebProof…. Adobe would take as much as twice as long. Over 250,000 actions, the amount of time wasted due to poor workflow/feature design is tremendous.
When you look at the big picture, even a tiny difference in features can add up to a tonne of wasted time and resources. For businesses that opt for whichever tool is most popular, the risks are great. Chances are, you’ve been losing money and time without even knowing it.
Optimize Your Production Workflow Today
To learn more about WebProof or to sign up for a free trial of the app, please visit https://www.webproof.com