The words PowerPoint and design don’t seem ideal bedfellows. Let’s face it, the popular Microsoft app isn’t renowned for engaging presentations, let alone being a catalyst for creative design.
But when American designer and educator Carl DiSalvo chose to question the validity of PowerPoint as a design tool on Twitter, he received more than 2,000 replies, many in defence of the software.
In fact, we’re finding there is an increasing demand from internal communicators for creative documents and posters to be designed in PowerPoint, rather than specific design apps such as InDesign or Illustrator.
Why? Here are some tips about the pros and cons for communicators wanting to get the best out of PowerPoint.
- In an increasingly DIY world where budgets are tightening, we’re finding clients sometimes need the flexibility of being able to edit basic text in the artwork themselves (perhaps to change the text into other languages or make updates). In these cases, PowerPoint provides flexibility and can reduce costs.
- PowerPoint is the go-to app for presentations, although we’d still do much of the creative work in a purpose-built design app.
- Presentations can be made more interesting using expert design and animation, but make sure you don’t overdo it
- It’s easy to download the files and they can be used virtually anywhere.
- Don’t overdo the text! Slides can easily look cluttered, so keep them simple.
- PowerPoint is specifically designed for presentations. It was never intended for poster or publication design, with good reason. Its functionality is limited for design.
- This restricted functionality also poses a problem with accessibility. PowerPoint can have problems handling multiple image tags or links, which can drop off if transferred between Mac and PC
- While we can still create striking designs and work around its limitations, PowerPoint simply doesn’t deliver the sort of creative experience that can be delivered by other apps, or even editable PDFs.
- Remember that fonts you have on your machine will not show up if another user doesn’t have them, so either embed them, or make sure everyone in your organisation has them.
- PowerPoint file sizes can get pretty big, making them less suited for email.
- Choosing to edit text in the artwork yourself does incur the hidden cost of in-house resourcing and may not result in as good or as accurate a job as if you let the specialists do it. It’s also unlikely you’ll be able to edit graphical elements.
Sequel Business Development Director Nick Andrews says the much maligned PowerPoint gets something of an unfair press.
“Yes, it has its limitations but PowerPoint does give communicators another tool to use as and when appropriate as part of an overall channel mix. As ever, think about the audience and the content before deciding whether PowerPoint is the best option,” says Nick.
So, while PowerPoint would never be our first choice for anything other than the presentations it was designed for, we can see the benefits to communicators in some cases. While it’s never going to be the designer or internal communicator’s app of choice, it doesn’t mean we can’t use it to create brilliant results.