In yesterday’s Professional Communication and Presentation class, Alex’s students were given the task of designing their decks for tomorrow’s Worst Case Scenario Demonstration speech. Several students came to me for input, and I discussed typeface choice with most of them. You may have heard the phrase, “design is 95% typography,” but what does that mean? Does that mean that all of those minute decisions we make about shapes, images, colors, and textures are worthless if we make the wrong choice of type for a presentation? Does that mean we should devote 95% of our design time to choosing typefaces? When Oliver Reichenstein made this claim in 2006, he was primarily focused on type in web design. However, we can draw a few lessons about type in presentation design from his message (check out the follow up to Reichenstein’s landmark article here.):
- While presentations are a visual medium, the best way for audiences to retain visual information is to pair an image with text. So, one must consider readability and usability when designing type in a presentation.
- It’s not about having as many typefaces as possible at your disposal. It’s about knowing how to best use the type you have. That’s typography.
- Treat text as a design element and consider the user’s experience.
Today’s deck, “52 Presentation Tips” by SOAP Presentations is an interesting addition to the ongoing debate about the role type plays in design.
SOAP’s approach is dynamic, the advice relevant (considering how many presentations on Slideshare still follow the Death by Bullet approach, we clearly need more champions for the cause like SOAP), and I find the overall design to be engaging and immersive. However, at times, I found the use of type to be disconcerting and the top down flow of information, in which words twist and wind down the middle of a 3-part vertical grid, made the content difficult to read quickly or easily. In the end, while I loved what I was seeing, I had trouble processing it quickly using Duarte’s glance media rule. However, this is intended to be an eBook and not a traditionally displayed and presented presentation, so SOAP’s design choice still makes sense. What do you think? Is dynamic/kinetic type useful in a presentation? What role does typography play in your presentation design?