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How many times have you been subjected to a badly designed Power Point slide? Have you noticed inconsistent color schemes, a myriad of fonts, or excess content? Many of us don’t have the time to focus on good design, especially under tight deadlines. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In this five-part series, we’ll incorporate fundamental design principles that will teach you how to elevate your presentations, user-interfaces, whitepapers, and more. And the good news is, you don’t have to be a formal designer to see the impact immediately.


Tip 1: There’s too much content on the page

Let’s use this PowerPoint slide as an example. Have a look at the design (Figure 1) and try to identify as many design problems as you can.  

Figure 1: Common design slide

My guess is that you intuitively identified some common design problems (we’ll highlight a lot of them throughout this series). I immediately notice an excess amount of content. How many times have you been on the receiving end of a slide like this? Were you able to focus while keeping up with the talk track? 

Most presenters fall into the trap of including all their points on a single slide. Perhaps that’s equated to a fear that the listener could miss out on important pieces of information. Whatever the case, the first step towards a better design is to reduce the total amount of content. 

Ease the Burden of Content

If you’re hesitant to remove content from your slide, you can redistribute it across multiple slides. Have a look at the below. It's the same content but distributed across three slides (grouped by themes). This makes it easier to read, digest and consume. 

Figure 2: Main message with contact info


Figure 3: Scheduling and benefits info


Figure 4: Location info


In the above we grouped the content into themes and distributed them across three slides instead of one. More slides do not necessarily mean a longer presentation. 


I would encourage all presenters/designers to get content off the page and into a talk track. The visuals of your slide or deck should complement your message. Think back to any of Steve Jobs’ presentations. He was a master at using imagery to support his talking points. Apple understood the importance of a powerful message that was complimented with beautiful design. 

Although I'm using a Power Point slide as an example of excess content, this principle applies to User Interface (UI) design (software design). Overcrowded UI screens can disorient users and cause confusion and frustration; ultimately leading to a bad user experience and low user adoption. 


So your first tip to become a better designer is to consider the content on the page. Simple is always better and less is more. To get content off the page, there are a few tips you can consider: redistribute the content over several pages/slides, remove or delete the content entirely, or consider powerful visuals complemented with a talk track. With that, you’re one step closer to becoming a better designer. 



Next Steps

Have a look at Figure 1 above and leave a comment with the design issues you notice. Use your intuition and there are no right or wrong answers. To make it easier, what part of the slide bothers you?

Don't forget to follow zye_sap so that you can stay up to date in this design series and keep up with my latest insight on UX and design.

In Part 2 we'll explore negative space and why less is more.
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