If you’re reading this, you’re probably not a graphic designer. But you may know good design when you see it … or you may not. Good design isn’t blatantly noticeable. Good design conveys the information effectively, efficiently, and subtly. Good design is easy to look at. But why is it easy to look at? What makes a design ‘good’? Since this is just a blog post and not four years in Graphic Design program at a reputable university, I’ll just break down the seven basics of making your Powerpoints look good.
Less Is More
You hear that phrase all the time, I’m sure — but it’s true! Think about it — when is the last time you sat, engrossed and on the edge of your seat, watching someone read word for word off their Powerpoint? I can answer for you: Never. Your audience will be much more attentive and enraptured by your presentation if you only have talking points on your presentation, and not the entire script.
Your Font Choices Matter
In any kind of design, you should stick to two main fonts — a headline font, and a body copy font. The headline font and the body copy font should contrast each other. Thick, bold font for a headline, and a mild, simple font for the body copy. Or, for the headline, an elegant yet stark serif font contrasted with a clean and thin sans-serif for the body. If you’d like to simplify even more for yourself, just stick with one font. Make the headlines noticeably larger than the body copy and make them bold or italics (but don’t overdo it with both bold and italic).
Have a Theme
A well-made presentation doesn’t look like a mish-mash of 10 other presentations, with varying styles and elements on each slide. Choose similar visual elements to have throughout the presentation, such as a vertical accent bar going across the top, or your company’s logo watermarked on the background. Along with the visual elements, a theme can be strengthened by how the type is handled. Choose what size all your headlines and body copy will be, and decide if your text will be centered on the slide or if it will stay justified to one side.
Clean Up Your Charts
Nothing is quite as monotonous on the eye as a boring, blocky Excel chart pasted into a Powerpoint. Littered with numbers and decimals, it seems like not much can be done to make it look pretty. But three simple tricks turn a snooze-fest into a clean chart that’s visually pleasing to look at. First, get rid of that background color on the main part of the chart. Then, eliminate those vertical lines throughout the chart, but keep the horizontal lines and make them thin. And finally, take that font size down a notch. Your chart will look much more open and clean if you give the numbers some room in those cells.
Don’t Be Afraid of Whitespace
It’s a common misconception that every bit of space in a presentation needs to be filled with mind-blowing statistics. But whitespace lets your audience concentrate on a few key points instead of being overwhelmed by every impressive fact that could fit on the page. So add an extra space between those bullet points.
Pick A Color Scheme and Stick With It
Rainbows are gorgeous, but tend to look somewhat childish when every color is in a single page of a presentation. Pick 2-3 colors to use throughout. Resources like Colour Lovers and Adobe’s Color Wheel are fantastic for choosing an attractive and effective color scheme. Try not to go too far outside the color scheme when creating new pages. Stick to all headlines and page titles being one color.
Consistency is Key
If any of the points before haven’t already gotten this across — consistency is key. A presentation made with beautiful stock photography, custom-made charts, and impeccable font choices can be ruined and made less effective without consistency throughout the presentation. Consistency is core to good design.
Creating effective and eye-pleasing designs can be intimidating for many marketers who don’t have a background in visual arts. But virtually all of us recognize the importance of the right visuals when it comes to making your content more digestible and likely to drive conversions. Following these general guidelines will help even a more text-minded marketer create designs that enhance the content around them.