Getting Reacquainted with PowerPoint

Hi Everybody,

This past week I was asked to come up with some ideas for a presentation some of my classmates and I will be making at the end of the term.  It wasn’t until I sat down to start working on it that I realized I had not actually used PowerPoint in a serious way to present something I was in the first semester of grade 9 back in 2000.

I did a bit of looking into it and it turns out the first version of PowerPoint was brought out in the early 1990s.  My first thought when I read that was “that’s incredible,” for two reasons, first because it speaks to the power of having additional visuals aid when making a point in a presentation.  Second, it’s incredible because for just over two decades we’ve been using essentially the same piece of software when we give a lecture, pitch a product and try to hammer home an idea.

Here the the thing though after so many years of using PowerPoint presentations why are the overwhelming majority of them so boring?  It’s not just me being picky either, when I looked into it there is an entire body of criticism that has developed under the catch all name “Death By PowerPoint” see below:

Death By PowerPoint

Most presenters use way too much text in their slides, using it as a crutch they often default to simply reading their notes directly from the slides, offering additional insights into the topic they’re speaking on.

Of the presenters that I’ve seen, the truly effective ones keep the words to an absolute minimum and use images to convey the message in way that’s much easier to quickly understand.  So to keep the word count down concepts can be extended over the course of several slides.  The presenter that just about wrote the book on keeping an audience engaged was Steve Jobs during his annual keynote presentations.

Steve Jobs – 2007 iPhone Presentation

So the next time you’ve got a presentation your working on just remember that a picture is worth a thousand words!

Respsonsive Design What the heck is it & why it’s really cool

Hi Everyone,

As this is my first post in what is to be a regular blog, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you all about some of the cool stuff I’ve been learning about in the past few weeks.  The topic that really caught my attention in the last few weeks was a lecture in our Digital Design class on something called Responsive Design.  What’s Responsive Design you ask?  And why is it important for the future of web development?

Responsive Web Design

These are three examples of how the same website responds to being viewed on mobiles, Tablets & desktops. Each version gets the same content but it’s presented in a form factor appropriate for each platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well to properly explain let me step back for a moment.  Ever since Apple introduced the IPhone to much praise back in mid-2007 there has been an explosion in the number of smartphones and as they have built in data connectivity they users have the opportunity to access websites from wherever they are.  As smartphones initially came of age most web content they access was on websites that were designed and formatted for viewing on desktop computers.  On a 3.5 inch screen the text, images & any buttons were extremely small and difficult to select with the touch control interfaces smartphones use.  Early on the way developers got around these technical issues was either releasing a custom app developed for one of the major smartphone platforms IOS, Android & Windows Phone or by adding an additional custom style sheet to their websites so customize their content appropriately for a mobile device.  As manufactures have introduced a wider variety of screen sizes over the years creating custom styles for each new device has become unwieldy, this is where Responsive Design techniques come into play to dramatically simplify the whole process.

The key to the making everything work and display properly are screen widths content is to be displayed on.  So what this means working as developers is that with a few simple additions to our style sheets we can format any content on the websites we create to display the content in a manner most appropriate for the devices being used.  So based on screen sizes it can cover everything from full 1920 X 1080 resolution desktops to tablets all the way down to the smaller smartphone screens.  But the part that really blew my mind was that since this method of displaying content is based on screen resolutions it is entirely platform neutral.

So with a bit of careful planning and consideration at the outset of a project we’re able to develop websites that will knock people’s socks off on any device they’re using.

Here a few great examples of responsive sites I’ve come across:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/

http://asuonline.asu.edu/

http://teegallery.com/