User interface, web design, and presentation are moving quickly. Graphics that looked fresh and new a couple of years ago, now look really stale and old. Look at old version of Windows and Mac OSX operating systems, a mobile phone home screen in 2008, and the PowerPoint template you are still using today.

A large part of this is driven by screen technology. Ten years ago, monitors had lower resolutions and fonts had to be fatter, and rough gradients could still look smooth. Also documents that long reasonable on a 4:3 aspect ratio become harder to read on wider 16:9 monitors as sentences streeeeeetch over the entire screen. Harder to read, and it looks out of balance.

What can you do to your PowerPoint template to make it look less like the 1990s? Here are some steps:

  • Switch to a lighter font. Calibri light looks OK and won't give you any compatibility problems on Macs and Windows.
  • Stop using drop shadows and gradients
  • Remove the old low resolution JPG graphics from your slide template. If you or your corporate communications department insists on having some branding on the slides, but a tiny high res logo at the bottom right
  • Don't use bullet points
  • If you have to use bullet points don't use a hierarchy of bullet points
  • If you have to use a hierarchy of bullet points, keep them all the same font size, and use a dot, dash, smaller dot for the levels (no squares, or other funny characters)
  • On 16:9 screens don't run long sentences in small fonts across the full width of the screen. If you have a lot of text put boxes next to each other (a horizontal list, versus a vertical list)
  • Restrict the use of colour, use the accent colour in your company's logo, well, to make an accent. Stop using bright red, pink, green, or yellow
  • Stop using underline and italic
  • Legal disclaimers, footnotes, and page numbers can be really, really small somewhere at the bottom, only readable for people who press their nose against the screen
  • Get someone in IT to program all these changes into a idiot-proof new PowerPoint template with all the right default shapes, fonts and colours

Another alternative is to starting my presentation app SlideMagic for your presentations!


Image from WikiPedia