PowerPoint has reached a level of ubiquity that makes it difficult for most people to even remember they have a choice when they set out to design a presentation. Just like Clorox and Kleenex, the brand name has become synonymous with the actual product—presentations.
But PowerPoint isn’t always the end-all, be-all of presentation design software (but don’t get us wrong: in our agency, when someone needs an editable deck, we usually create it in PowerPoint, and we tend to export in PPT, too). The main reasons it’s the industry leader has less to do with the merits of PowerPoint and more to do with the corporate world’s heavy reliance on PCs and, by extension, Microsoft Office. In short, it’s a compatibility thing: presenters know they’ll never be left with their slides down as long as they’ve got a .PPT file, because they can always find a PC and PCs always have PowerPoint.
Of course, this is how compatibility was addressed for previous generations. The common denominator for all computers was software installed on computers—you went with the market leader to make sure your work would translate across devices. Now, the common denominator is the internet. That which is created and displays properly (meaning, the way you intended it to) on one browser displays the same on another.
As such, there are a ton of PowerPoint competitors creeping up. Google Slides is one of the most notable simply because at this point, most of us have Gmail and thus Drive accounts with Google. Just like Docs, Slides offers all of the core design, formatting, and presentation creation capabilities that you’d find in PowerPoint or Keynote. Just like with PowerPoint and Keynote, you can expect a few things here and there to be different. User interface issues; not missing functionality.
Every presentation designer knows that familiarity is a huge factor in satisfaction with design software. It’s an efficiency game, and we don’t like searching for buttons. That said, you can reasonably expect to feel like Google Slides is inferior the first couple of tries simply because you can’t find your old, reliable tools right off. But with familiarity comes warm feelings.
Of course, Google’s aim wasn’t simply to be as good as PowerPoint, but better. So what do presenters gain by going to the Google cloud with their decks?
For one, compatibility that beats even PowerPoint. Over the years, Microsoft hasn’t done the best job of making sure that PowerPoint 2007 decks play nicely with PowerPoint 2010, vice versa, and certainly not in any other environment outside PowerPoint. It’s close, but we’ve all been burned at one time or another by this reality. Google Slides fixes this. As long as you have internet, you’ve got your deck as it is meant to be. They even have transitions, so no more exporting just-in-case PDF files with slides for every build. Even if you’re working offline, you can download the decks as PPTX files or, more interestingly, .SVG. Like downloading webpages as HTML files, downloading the .SVG version will allow you to display your presentation within a browser, with or without internet, and still have all the animations, fonts, proper spacing, etc. It’s a web experience hosted on your own computer, so you don’t need the internet to grab it from somewhere else.
So that’s all well and good for designers and presenters, but what about the content side? Our content team loves the “Research” feature under the “Tools” tab, which displays a search window within the Slides interface that displays search results on whatever topic you enter. You can search Google’s Scholar, News, Images, and Videos filters directly within Slides, which makes it super easy to find that perfect data-driven justification for a point, or that video that illustrates a concept perfectly, etc. It’s one of those simple features that really helps the brain connect presentation designing with presentation content.
So that’s all on Google Slides for today. Note that we didn’t even get into collaboration, which is incredible. Definitely check this tool out!