PDFs are notorious for their clumsiness and out-of-date look. Often treated (or mistreated) as raw pre-print files, they lack proper design, take ages to scroll down, and make you strain your eyes in an effort to read those tiny letters on your tiny smartphone screen.
But there’s a way to turn your PDF file into a powerful and engaging online experience that will convert readers into ardent fans of your content. How? By making the PDF interactive.
So, let’s discuss what an Interactive PDF is along with some ideas and ways to create one (preferably, without going anywhere near Adobe InDesign).
What Is an Interactive PDF?
Essentially, an interactive PDF is a PDF document that incorporates all kinds of rich media content: links, audio and video files, images, GIFs, clickable buttons, and fillable forms.
In other words, an interactive PDF combines all the perks of the format, like commonness and security, with digital web experiences.
Say, you are publishing a catalog. Making it interactive will mean adding product videos, image galleries, or even shoppable items that viewers can buy right from the catalog pages.
Depending on the type of content you produce, the opportunities to make it dynamic are numerous. Check out our flipbook with reasons to make a PDF interactive in 2023. There are engaging videos, GIFs, and pop-up images inside! And then read on to learn about a few ideas on what can go into an animated PDF.
Interactive PDF Ideas
Video is the first choice when it comes to adding interactivity. It’s unsurprising, given that video is perhaps the most popular type of content around the web. It is used everywhere from education to advertising to entertainment. And this trend will only grow with people watching on average 16 hours of online videos weekly (which is 52% more than 2 years ago.)
So, how can you use videos to make your PDFs more interactive? Here are a few ideas for you to try out.
Social videos. These are videos of your staff members and customers talking about their experience with your company. This type of video gives a huge boost to your credibility and helps establish trust. And they are extremely easy to make—no need for fancy animations, endless script revisions, and costly setups. Just grab a camera, choose a good light and a willing colleague—and you’re good to go.
Check out how Swansea University uses videos to create a sense of community and professionalism.
Explainer videos. Put simply, they are short informative videos that illustrate and explain complex ideas. Obviously, you can use this type of video to enhance your educational content and create better guides and handbooks.
But the real power lies in using these videos for marketing purposes. It’s a perfect medium to explain the perks of your product or service in a concise, fun, and engaging way. Are you working on a company brochure or a commercial proposal? Add an explainer video and watch conversions grow. Here’s how we do it at FlippingBook.
Video ads. No one likes non-skippable intrusive banners, but for many marketers and creators ads are the only way to make some profit from the content they produce.
Injecting short and good quality video ads into your PDF-based marketing materials can help tackle that initial irritation. People love videos, and they love to have a choice to watch one, so the chances that your ads will be noticed are quite high.
See how tourism specialists from Helena, MT use video ads to promote the local places in their City Guide.
#2 Pop-up images
Using clickable images is a surefire way to make your content stand out without putting much effort into it.
Pop-up images are images that enlarge on click. You can use them to add more product images or create entire image galleries within your PDF.
Flip through this Moore & Giles interactive catalog example to see how they promote their items with pop-up images:
It may seem that GIFs are good solely for entertainment and Slack channel reactions, but they are a quick and relatively simple way to bring your PDF to life and make it look more professional.
Christie NHS Trust does a wonderful job using GIFs to liven up their interactive PDF presentation:
And there is more to GIFs than you might think. Check out our article on using GIFs in your publications to learn about the ways that GIFs can help you in marketing, sales, and education.
#4 Lead capture forms
Traditionally, a lead capture form is placed on a webpage that gates access to downloadable content—such as your PDF. Many lead capture forms also include the option for an electronic signature, which can simplify the process of obtaining signed agreements or contracts. While it’s a valid and reliable way to encourage visitors to sign up, any friction on the way to the content will throw some people off.
You can use digital publishing software like FlippingBook to place a customizable lead capture form right into your PDF. Not only will this make the content more interactive, but it will also add a few perks to it.
For instance, you can give readers a taste of your content by placing a lead capture form a few pages into the PDF. This kind of preview will get people engaged into reading, and when it’s time for them to sign up, they will be more likely to do so.
Also, you can share the PDF on social media and by email without worrying that people will download and distribute it around the web, bypassing your sign-up page. Here’s an example of an interactive document with an embedded lead capture form.
💡According to our research, 90% of emails submitted through the FlippingBook Online lead capture form are valid. Thus, you get high-quality leads right from your flipbook!
#5 Page flip effect
If you don’t have any rich media content like videos or GIFs on hand, the easiest way to spice up your static PDF is by turning it into a life-like flipbook. This way, your PDF is converted into an HTML5 publication that has a realistic page flip effect, intuitive controls, nice design, and some level of branding.
Your PDF file will immediately look neat and professional. And what’s more important, it will provide a great reading experience even on small mobile screens. In most cases, the ability to access the content and read it comfortably is what really matters.
How to Create an Interactive PDF?
There are two main ways to do that.
#1 Adobe InDesign
Adobe InDesign offers great functionality that lets you incorporate GIFs, videos, and even fillable forms into a PDF, but we won’t cover the process in this article. The reason for this is that all the interactive elements and ways to add them are quite complicated and should be studied separately. And, of course, you have to be familiar with Adobe InDesign capabilities to be able to implement rich media content. Which in its turn would mean that you are an expert already and wouldn’t be reading this post!
So, what options do you have if you aren’t a designer with some mad Adobe InDesign skills?
#2 FlippingBook—an interactive PDF alternative
FlippingBook is flipbook software that converts your PDFs into HTML5 online documents. You can then customize the document and add interactive content, including videos and links, lead capture forms, images, and GIFs.
Unlike Adobe InDesign, FlippingBook doesn’t require any special knowledge to use. The editor is so intuitive, you can have a powerful interactive PDF in a matter of minutes.
On top of that, documents in the FlippingBook format get a few other perks:
- Your PDFs are hosted in the cloud, so you can easily share them by sending a link to the document, embedding it into your website, or posting on social media.
- Documents are trackable, so you can see who interacted with your content, when, and for how long.
- You can brand your documents with a clickable logo, your corporate colors, and a branded link.
- You can update your document without having to change its link. So there’s no need to resend the file when a new version of your document comes out.
💡 Don't have a ready PDF yet?
Create your PDF in Canva and publish it to FlippingBook right from your Canva account. To give you inspiration, we’ve designed five stunning Canva templates: digital flipbook, catalog, magazine, brochure, and newsletter. Add any template to your Canva account and customize it to your liking. And then publish to FlippingBook straight away.Learn more →
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