As I continue to break my head over presentation design software, I came to realise that design software is tricky, because - unlike other apps - it covers a lot of different aspects. What is one piece of software, is in fact a bundle of many:

  • A sketch pad to map story ideas and organise your thoughts

  • An canvas that facilitates a creative process that enables you to make something artistically beautiful

  • A library/filing system of information: your own audit trail of your work going back for years, but also the archive of building blocks that colleagues need (the latest product deck, etc.)

  • The central switchboard for collaboration and decision making among colleagues, both in terms of getting/preparing the idea, and presenting, discussing it.

  • The computer interface that everyone (young and old) has mastered, the basics of creating, sending, receiving, opening, printing, “stuff” using a computer. Most people understand their browser, email application, and PowerPoint when it comes to computers

  • A tool that is used for junior people (analysts, secretaries), to “execute” visual ideas handed over to them by others. Someone scribbles a chart and request to have it turned into a digital format. Software needs to be ready with a lot of features to support these random visual ideas.

  • Legacy file formats and user interfaces. Microsoft cannot simply say sorry, this app won’t open files that were created before 2005 anymore.

  • Design software has much more intricate relation to the user interface of a device: small screen, big screen, mouse, touch, keyboard, it will turn the options you have to create something completely upside down. (Unlike, let’s say a database or email app that you can pretty much implement on anything and it will do the same thing).

  • An extremely broad range of users: professional designers, secretaries, CEOs, analysts, all are forced to use the same interface.

  • A wide range of applications: TEDTalks, conference rooms, email attachments.

Most legacy apps get some things right, and are completely failing in other areas. New startups are struggling with prioritising features or target markets

Cover image by CJ Infantino on Unsplash

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