Today we’re very pleased to announce significant improvements in the viewing experience for portrait documents in DocSend. Portrait documents will now scroll vertically in the DocSend viewer, and the default zoom level has been healthily increased to provide a comfortable viewing size right from the start. We trust you’ll find these enhancements make for a much more natural document viewing experience, similar to typical PDF viewers.
Here’s an example of it in action:
The Right Experience for the Right Document
Landscape documents will continue to behave as usual, i.e. they will animate horizontally on page change so long as you have transition animations turned on in your settings. This was a fun one to design through. Oftentimes in B2B software the easiest thing to do as new features and improvements emerge over time is to “add a new setting”. Sooner or later, the settings page becomes an encyclopedia of choices, and using the product correctly ends up requiring a ton of effort. We much prefer instead to design using a philosophy borrowed from software engineering “convention over configuration“. What this means is that, whenever possible, we try to have DocSend “just do the right thing” as opposed to burdening our users with yet another setting and making it possible to use DocSend in an unintended way.
So, to just do the right thing for the viewer experience we first wanted to think through what might be the most natural interaction pattern. We quickly concluded that documents generally convey information in either of two ways: point-by-point or continuously. When it comes to a typical, presentation-oriented document, the presenter often wants to show just one piece of information at a time to maximize impact and minimize distractions — one slide, one point. Transition slides are often sprinkled throughout the document to provide a pause before introducing the next section. In this context it would be distracting to show the reader the current slide plus part of the next slide at any given time. Rather, showing the next slide could have the unintended effect of luring your readers into flipping through your document more quickly than you’d like, constantly tempted by a sneak peek of the next page.
In a continuous viewing experience, however, the goals are different. Ideas are not separated out into different sections — or even “pages”. The content creator doesn’t particularly care how much content is displayed to the reader at a single time so long as it’s displayed in a natural, easy-to-read manner. And that gets to the heart of our decision to use vertical scroll (i.e. continuous) display for portrait documents. We typically find that portrait documents are designed to be consumed continuously (ex. Microsoft Word documents) whereas landscape documents (ex. Microsoft PowerPoint documents) are designed to be consumed point-by-point. With this release, your viewers will now get the best experience that’s most appropriate for the kind of information you want to display.
We hope you – and your viewers – like it! Have any other suggestions on how we can improve the viewer experience? Just let us know or post below in the comments!