Nov 7, 2016

7 Secrets of designing beautiful PowerPoint Presentations

Do you want to improve the look and feel of your PowerPoint presentation? Do you want to make beautiful PowerPoint slides? Here are 7 free websites that will be useful to you. I personally use these websites when I make PowerPoint slides for my clients.

#1 Google Fonts

Google Fonts is the best website to get awesome fonts for your presentations. It is FREE and it is good. This site is not only used by professional presentation designers but also by website designers and everyone else. You see these fonts on mobile apps, posters, brochures and what not.

Forget Arial and Calibri and try out new fonts like Montserrat, Open Sans, Roboto, Archivo Narrow and Oswald. Use these fonts and make your slides look positively 'different'. Your audience will like your slides a lot more.

How to use Google Fonts?
Visit Google Fonts. You can start by scrolling down. Take a look, have fun and discover new fonts. Or, you can start by applying filters. On your right hand side is the filter for Categories. If you want to make a presentation, choose sans serif fonts (to know more read Which font should I use in my presentation?).
Sans Serif fonts look good on the screen. For word documents which will be printed, use serif fonts. Click on the white + sign within the red circle. Now go down (a new pop up will appear) and download the font. The font will get downloaded as a zip file. Unzip it. Right click on the .ttf file and install. You can now open your presentation and begin using this font.

Suggested fonts: Montserrat, Open Sans, Oswald, Archivo Narrow, Lato, Muli, Work Sans and Roboto.

#2 Iconmonstr

Other than the spelling, everything else is right with iconmonstr. This website allows you to download neat looking icons for your presentations and other projects. It is completely FREE. The license clearly mentions that Licensee may use the Work in non-commercial and commercial projects, services or products without attribution. This means, you can download the icons and use it without linking back to the website.

How to use this website?
You can start by searching for a keyword. Let's say you need an icon for time. Type time in the Search box at the top. You will get a list of icons. Click to select. Now choose PNG and accept the terms and download.

If you do not want to search by keywords but you want to explore, then click on Collections (top center of the website) and browse through icon groups. Click on a group to see what's inside.
This website is especially good for tech companies and startups. Here is a slide I recently made using icons from iconmonstr. I have changed the text to maintain confidentiality.
The only effort you need to make is - visualize your points. Then visit iconmonstr and search for appropriate icons. Make sure you use large icons. Larger icons look better. Here is another slide with a similar layout. Notice the large icons.

#3 Pixabay

Pixabay is the best 'free' images website in the world. You can search for photographs, download high resolution files and pay nothing. It is free and you do not need to link to the website. I have been using this website for 2 years now and I can see other people using this site too. Pixabay images can be found in blogs, newspapers, banner ads and of course, in presentations.

How to use Pixabay?
Pixabay has a huge collection of photographs. The collection of vector illustrations and icons is not that impressive. Use it for photographs and search by keywords.
Let's say you want an image of a smartphone. Type 'smartphone' and press enter. Now look carefully at the filters on the top. Click on All Images and select Photos. As I mentioned, the vector illustrations are not that great. If you want to use it for PowerPoint slides, horizontal orientation is better. Click on Orientation and choose Horizontal. You can ignore other filters.
Click on the image you like. Click on Free Download. Choose your desired file size. For presentations always go for L (large). For blog posts and social media, S is enough. Here are two slides I have recently made for my clients using images from pixabay (text changed).

#4 Flat UI Colors

I have written before about the current trend of using flat colors in icons, logos and in graphic design (read more here: Flat Design for Presentations - Are you Missing the Trend?). Flat colors lack special effects (shadow, bevel, emboss) and look very good. All popular apps and websites now use flat colors. All brand logos are now a days made using flat colors. Flat UI Colors is a simple website. It has only 20 flat colors. Pick the color you like. 

How do you use the color?

You need to click on the Color Format button on top. Choose RGB (1,2,3). When you click on your desired color, the RGB code gets copied automatically. Paste it in a textbox.
You will use this code to fill colors into your text boxes, shapes and charts. Choose any shape you want to color. It could be the header of every slide in your Slide Master. Click to select it. Under DRAWING TOOLS on the top, under FORMAT, go to Shape Fill. Choose More Fill Colors and click Custom. Now enter the RGB code of the flat color and press OK.

Start replacing your standard Windows Colors to Flat Colors and notice the improvement.

#5 Iconfinder

Iconfinder is another personal favorite of mine. I have been using this site for 2 years now and I have found it exceptionally good. Iconfinder is different from iconmonstr. Iconmonstr only offers simple icons. Iconfinder has all sorts of icons in various colors and designs.
Iconfinder has both free and paid icons. The paid icons are much better but many of the free icons are no less.

How to use iconfinder? 
You need to search icons using keywords. Let us say you want to depict time. You enter the keyword 'time'. Look to your left. Keep the Icon format to Any, set Price to Free, choose No link back under License type and set Icon size to 512 pixels. The icons that you get now are free for commercial use and you do not need to link back. What more do you want?

To download a free icon, choose an icon and click on it. Download the PNG version which is 512x512. Larger icons are better than smaller ones. Smaller icons are good when you need to use in mobile apps. For making PowerPoint slides, download large 512 pixel icons only. Here are two PowerPoint slides I recently made using icons from iconfinder (text has been changed to maintain confidentiality).

#6 WhatFont

You visit a website and like a particular font. You want to (and you must) use it in your presentation. What do you do? Skim through lines of code. Not any more. You can install WhatFont extension in your Chrome browser. 

How to use WhatFont?
You are on a website. You like a particular font. Click on the f? icon on the top right (in Chrome browser) and take your cursor to that font. You will be immediately aware of the font name. What do you do next? Visit Google Fonts and see it that font is there. If you are lucky, you will download it for free and starting making beautiful PowerPoint presentations with this new font.
I visited Dropbox website once and liked the header font. Pointing my cursor, I knew instantly it was 'Open Sans'. I visited Google Fonts and voila! I found Open Sans there. Today I used Open Sans in many of my presentations. It is a very good font. Simple and easy to read.

#7 Awwwards

If you design lots of presentations, you will be wondering how do you keep creating better and better slides. You cannot keep using the same color combinations and same layouts forever. You need new ideas, you need inspiration.
Visit Awwwards website and browse for 15 minutes. The best way to use it is to look at WINNERS. Under WINNERS, select winner of the month and browse by categories. Look at 'Business & Corporate' as a category. Click on the icon in the middle of each showcase and visit the website. Soak in the design, the use of images, icons, color and fonts. Carefully observe the font colors and the background colors. Why not use them in your next presentation? There is no pressure. You are just observing and getting inspired.

Here is one such website. Look at the use of colors. How do you use it in PowerPoint slides? In your next presentation, avoid using a white background. Use grey. It will hurt the eyes less. White slides in a small conference room actually hurts our eyes.

On top of grey, use 2 colors; black and green. To emphasize a box or a bar chart, use orange. Want to try? Here are the RGB codes you can use. Grey 242, 242 and 242. Green 64, 181 and 114. Orange 253, 169 and 64. We finally have a template of four colors; black, grey, green and orange. These four colors form a sober template which you can use for any presentation.

Designing PowerPoint Presentations is very much graphic design. Though managers and executives are not designers, yet they need to design slides. When you do design slides, you need to make them look better. Give your mind some ideas and get inspired on Awwwards.

What do you need for beautiful PowerPoint Presentations?

Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations = Good looking fonts + nice images + nice icons + good colors + some inspiration. I hope you find these 7 websites as useful as I have found them in the last two years.

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