By now I have seen a number of real presentations that beta testers of my presentation software SlideMagic have produced. The results are very encouraging! Without exception, all presentations look "pretty decent" to "very good". All of these decks were designed by complete laymen designers. 

Even more interestingly, it is possible for someone like me (a pro), to upgrade these "pretty decent" to "very good" presentations to something really good in just 15 minutes of polishing. (The user base of SlideMagic is still small, so beta testers can benefit from the luxury of my input here and there).

Here are the common mistakes I usually fix:

  • Cutting / re-editing text. Taking out unnecessary tangents, side comments, indirect sentences saves space and allows you to make text bigger
  • Making text in similar boxes the same font size. I considered freezing font sizes in the app but that would take too much design freedom away from you guys. A simple rule, if text boxes are part of a group (a list, a diagram) try to give them the same font size
  • Fixing left alignment and centred alignment. It is hard to give a rule, but in some cases one looks better, and other cases the other (yes, that is vague).
  • Fixing inconsistent header formatting across slides (font size, colours). I gave you guys the freedom to play with this and make them different across slides, but I am considering freezing it (sorry).
  • The biggest one, fixing poor grid compositions. In many cases users select axis definitions that leave a large number cells empty. (One row, criterion, product, has a lot of attributes that are irrelevant for the others). White space in a slide is good, but if that means that all the other cells in your chart are tiny/unreadable we have to be pragmatic.

Keep up the good work! I have temporarily stopped the intake of new beta testers as I am fixing some UI issues. Hopefully I can soon go from a private beta to a public beta where the invite-only wall can be taken down.

If you liked this post, why not subscribe to daily updates about presentation design via email? Just blog posts, no spam, or you can follow Jan on Twitter to never miss a thing.