Walmart : Informing choice
A simple preview device makes PDF archives more browsable.
Walmart, the US’s biggest supermarket group, has an unusually neat preview facility for its large range of PDF-based corporate fact sheets.
Walmart has Related Information links to relevant fact sheet sets in three of the nine main sections of its standalone Corporate site. These sit in a substantial Fact Sheets archive in another main section, Press Room, where they are indexed under nine topics (for example, Charitable Giving, Corporate Facts).
Each topic has an introductory paragraph and lists several specific subjects; for example, Sustainability has 23, Economic Activity 13. Subject headings are bracketed between standard PDF and information (i) symbols. Clicking the ‘i’ symbol launches a pop-up pane that previews the scope of the fact sheet; for example, The Company of the Future (under Corporate Facts) is shown to be a speech given to store managers by the CEO.
Walmart’s archive of fact sheets is unusually diverse and well-stocked. While this may subliminally reflect its stores it also correspondingly increases the importance of easy browsing, especially for its presumed primary consumers, time-starved journalists. The choice of PDF as the means of delivery adds to the challenge, but Walmart has devised a simple elegant solution that actually enhances the user experience.
Although the choice of PDF is a conventional one for such content, and appropriate, it is more cumbersome for quick browsing than HTML web pages, which in an archive of this size becomes more of a potential drawback. This is overcome by the availability of content previews that are clearly signalled by the use of the universally recognised ‘i’ for information symbol. So users do not have to click into each fact sheet to ‘taste’ the content. Presenting the tasters in pop-up panes rather than as extra lines, (as with news releases, for example) avoids adding to the archive page itself and keeps the index always within reach.http://walmartstores.com/pressroom/factsheets/
First published on 20 January, 2011