Our job as PowerPoint presentation designers is to enhance the visual appeal of slides in a way that helps the end user understand the content of the slides easily. While doing so, we sometimes miss out on the most important aspect – the end user.
When at work, we PowerPoint designers become so engrossed with the designing aspect that we become self-absorbed and think only of ways to make the slide design fit our concept of what looks good and what doesn’t. And in this way, we move away from the actual requirement.
When I discussed this with one of our senior designers, I got some excellent pointers which I am sharing here.
I was told that a presentation is a way of telling a story through visual content. Our customers want their presentation to be communicative and visually connect to their end users. For this to happen, we designers need to understand our customers’ needs thoroughly. We can do that by doing a few simple things methodically.
Ask the right questions
The first pointer was very simple but all-important. If you are not clear or are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask. Your goal is to get it right the first time.
Talk to your customer. Try to extract as much information as possible.
If you are working on a new customer project, it is always good to get the baseline story to improve your understanding of what is needed.
I have experienced this myself. When I send a requirement to our creative team without explaining the whole story behind the visual, I do not get what I want or expect. Then starts the back and forth communication which could have been avoided if they had a clear picture of the end use.
We have some customers who don’t fail to give us clear instructions and make sure that we understand what they want to convey right from the start. However, we also have customers who expect us to know their requirement. Yeah. That is reality. So, ask.
Visualize it right
The customers we deal with have heavy templates loaded with text, graphs and diagrams. This is unavoidable for corporates and consultants.
While designing PowerPoint slides, keep yourselves in the presenter’s shoes with the end users in mind. Your design has to help the presenter convey the content of the text, graphs and diagrams to the end user. So, as your visualization is very important here are a few pointers to help you do just that:
1. Design Slides that Communicate a Single Idea
It might be difficult for corporates and consultants to create slides that are not loaded with content. But it is never impossible to add visual design to such slides. We do it all the time.
Avoid overusing graphics in an already text heavy slide. Too many visual elements in a single slide won’t be helpful either for our customers or for their clients. Keeping that in mind, designers have to know what the primary focus of the slide is and work on that.
A consultant’s deck is likely to have navigations where the same content is repeated over a few slides, but each slide will have a focused topic. In such situations, you can fade out the other content that is not part of the navigation path and focus on the main point.
2. Design Slides Your Audience Cares About
It is easy to connect to a product or brand when you know about it inside out and care about it.
Most companies who have built their presence already identify well with their audience. They make sure that whatever they produce or launch meets their consumers’ expectation.
Your ‘product’ here is the design. So, choose a style or design that will resonate well with the audience. Remember that every design element will affect the behavior of the audience.
Build a connection with the audience through the designs of the slides.
3. Design Simple Slides with Consistent Visual Style
Most of our customers have a company style guide that they follow. Following the style guide helps maintain consistency throughout the deck.
Creating consistent visual style is important if there are a lot of slides in a presentation. Avoid using diverse visual effects to ensure that slides do not get disconnected.
When Chillibreeze customers send their decks to us, we follow their brand guide and ensure we do not stray from it. But does that mean that our designers should not be innovative? No, it does not mean that. In fact, customers expect us to be the experts when it comes to the design aspects. So, we have to be creative, yet not stray from the brand guide.
Simple or minimalist design requires more effort from designers than other forms of design.
4. Arrange and Layout your Slides with Care
The customer might give you plain slides with content or decks already designed but in need of a new look.
Make sure you understand the content of the slides and lay them out so that there is a flow of thought that ties the slides together. However, do keep in mind Duarte’s point number 1: Design Slides that Communicate a Single Idea.
Design should not take the story away but should help emphasize important points in the narrative. This was one of the many takeaways from an article by Duarte, which helped me crystalize the must-dos mentioned above for good design of PowerPoint slides.
When slides are designed with the above pointers in mind, the number of iterations are bound to come down and the amount of customer satisfaction will surely go up.