Presentation Design Tips: Functionality First, Artistic Later

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We all want and need a certain degree of attention.

Just think of that people will always see you, hear you, and follow whatsoever you do. You get the spotlight in this crowd-crowd world. Doesn’t it feel so good? On top of that, that particular act of attention-seeking is acceptable. Exceptionally for the creative industry, that some say as its fundamental.

Then and there, we look ourselves in the large mirror. A familiar reflection showed from it. We, a PowerPoint designer, are actually creative industry doer as well. It signifies that we care about originality and give a high-value for the artistic process. With that sort of commitment, we use the possibility to promote our pieces of work widely through aesthetic, and is a standard we live by.

In the last two years, restlessly, we attempted to stand out among our competitors. And that’s freaking hard. Why so? Pin on your head that the  digital sector is the fastest growing industries globally . In Indonesia per se, is in the same line with e-commerce, which has grown about 60-80% every year.

This condition led into a pathetic mess, where more businesses produced similar stuffs and non-senses. Everyone must be so fed up. Because, whenever they look for a trend, they instantly get a trash. Sorry to say, but that’s the fact. In the intangible dimension of presentation design supplier, it’s portrayed by monotonous, ugly, and average design like this:

See? Is that what you call a product of creativity?

Deep inside, we 100% want to scream: “Yo Noob! My granny also can make that one!” 

At that very point, our productions became a bit freer from the common presentation hobbyist. We started experimenting. We mounted a slide as a canvas to sketch. We didn’t listen to some sayings that PowerPoint is impossible to be compared with program such Adobe, Corel, PreZi, and the other app with a desirable tool for showcasing an artistry effect you could name.

Technically speaking, creativity has no boundary. We called into question that a computer program is merely an instrument. And, we as the user are the determinant whether it’ll work properly or not. In support of that view, you can lend a drawing tablet to elementary school kid, at the same time, a pencil is also given to a designer graphic. Let them make a scratch, and without seeing the result, you already know who’ll do better. Therefore, we could stay pretty optimistic to kick out the idea that PowerPoint isn’t much to look at.

We tackled our esteem, as a bootstrapper in this kind of business, through the huge production of unique presentation design. It generally meant that we thrived to create something anyone never experienced before. We sent our designers out of the box, where they don’t need to think logically, and they came back like a little Leonardo Da Vinci! And then, BOOM! We made it. We got a validation. From that moment onwards, we kept saying to ourselves that we’re cool.

By applying UI looks in slides, we felt that we finally set the trend of presentation template design. Nevertheless, there’s a distinction between good and bad on this manner. We indeed meet our expectations. But, is that matter for our clients? Well, let’s just ask them.

Do you think it’s important to apply a splashy placeholder? Do you think a presentation will be more outstanding after using many typefaces? Or more professional looking because a playful vector?

For some, those mentioned features are arguably unimportant.

Something sometimes looks good but useless. It’s the price that we get to pay than offered by humdrum jobs. We just care about ‘cool-looking slide’ without thinking if it’s applicable in the actual presentation, first mistake. So many people follow that, and presentation template marketplace is filled with that kind of design style, second mistake. Subsequently, we began to raise the awareness to prioritize the presenter (re: our clients), not our designers. Because, at the end of the day, that’s where our products end. And here are our blunders in breakdown:

Tacky Placeholder

Placeholder is a tool for inserting a picture. You can find it under Slide Master’s tab option. Normally, it’s configured in square or rectangular.

Presentation Design Tips

With huge respect, that frame is more suited to be placed in a passport. You know, the poker face sort of close-up photo. And we don’t want our client’s presentation to have that looks. Hence, for the sake of creativity, we let our designers creating an alternative through free-form lines. Afterwards, they invented splashy placeholders. Some imitating cow-skin looks, also a pyramid, steep cliffs, asteroid and spaceship. All the weird stuffs.

Presentation Design Tips

Insert a photo in it. Does it well-fitted? ((shake head)). It’s proven that being cool doesn’t mean being useful. Paradoxically, that becomes well-made stuff to boo at. Now, without lessening the quality, let’s do a little trick.

Presentation Design Tips

Looks better, huh? Not just better, but the placeholder turns to be more applicable for any purposes. It may look formal, informal, creative, and so forth because of the photo selection itself. And the usage of the placeholder is merely to assist its framing.

Micro Fonts

Typography game shall meet its core aspects: legibility, readability, and aesthetics. The latest Microsoft Office is stuffed with 90+ typefaces. Regrettably and boringly, we can’t stop running in circles that made of Montserrat, Arial, and Times New Roman.

After some research, we collected the why of font game could be so terrible. The reason is: it’s not easy to combine contrasting styles. It’s not easy to understanding thick and thin strokes. It’s not easy to adjust the space between pairing of letters. And the list goes on.

Hence we commonly find the style as appeared above. Just like that, delicate and simple. Perfectly fitted with the footer and header altogether. Now when the projector beams it, …

Presentation Design Tips

Wait. What?! Something’s wrong. For those who experiencing this one, you’d better give a magnifying glass to your audience. Let’s totally redesign the style, and then readjust its size and placement to make it readable even from a straw-hole.

Nice. No more micro fonts in PowerPoint presentation, okay?

Unimportant Vector and Text

As if your house is brutally overload with furniture in a poor placement, then it’ll have a claustrophobic sensation. Amidst these, you might be okay. But your mom surely will hate it. So does occur to your audience. At the first time, you might think that by implementing all-in-one would make them get the information at once.

Presentation Design Tips

Seeing the slide above, the audience will process it through several levels of analysis. They can’t grab the focus. The core issue is, the slide is composed of decorations rather than matter. Look at that unimportant footer. Also those extra vector icons. Not to mention those inconsistent subjects. What is the information to deliver from that? It just leads an explanatory gap to the audience. So here is our presentation design tips: just get rid of them like Marie Kondo does the so-called minimalism.

By that, you must feel a bit loosened. Your concentration gets sharpened. And the most prominent of all, you can grab the content with ease.

Disoriented Color

Back then, we gave our clients color-scheme options within their template order. Around 8-10 colors. And based on our experience, most of them weren’t being used. Maybe it because the alternative couldn’t meet their taste. Another maybe, the color selection could evoke a headache to their audience. That’s a bit sad, since it’s difficult to find the perfect palette match. We bothering ourselves with a false tactic.

Conversely, from this moment onward, we plan to give them the colors in XML format instead. Simple, aside from it could reduce the size of the file, it’s just more and more practical. If you don’t have any idea about XML, click here.

Presentation Design Tips

Another important note about presentation design tips, monochromatic will be replaced by duotone next year. As early as 40,000 years ago, our ancestors were keen on oil, animal fat, burnt charcoal, and chalk to express something. With those materials, they produced some sort of old-fashioned color. And that the monochromatic traditionally is. A color with less contrast, but more intense.

Before we arrived at this point, there’s always a feeling that says, “Hey, we’re better than X or Y!” It’s so easy to make ourselves feel better by putting the others down. Alternately, we decide to step back and learn from those mistakes. By then, we know that we’ve learnt lessons.

Just so you know, the slides we put as an example of blunders above are the first release of our 2017 presentation template, one of our best-selling items. In consequence, in 2020 we’ll repair them with some sort of content maturation.

With introspective belief, we’ll say that functionality comes first, artistic later. It is particularly important when creating something to consider what that message is, and it is important when viewing something to consider what that object could have been used for, why it was created with the characteristics it has, and what for it communicates. That’s the sum up of this presentation design tips. We’ve been in a position to think of an amazing-looking design can impress people. So silly. Still, we’re not truthfully right to say so. We’re far from that. Though we radically wiped those aesthetic ideals, doesn’t mean that if whoever do all forms of artworks are wrong. We believe that everyone has their own methods, and now we’re just on the way to crave more substances for our clients without ego-surfing to impress them. Alongside with these scenarios, we won’t stop learning and give the best shot for utilitarian purposes.


What do you think about this Presentation Design Tips: Functionality First, Artistic Later article? If you want to get more presentation design tips, you may check to our insightful blog.

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