From The Studio – A Designer’s View of Prezi

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by Simon

We’ve been pretty forthright in our views on Prezi over the past few months.

We’ve recorded Podcasts on the subject as well as discussing it’s pros and cons at length with customers all over the World. Much of our discussion has been around how effective (and, more often than not, ineffective) Prezi is as a visual storytelling tool.

But what of the designer’s role? What is it like to work with as a design tool? How does it compare to the ubiquitous PowerPoint and Keynote?

In an effort to redress the balance, we asked Dan, our most senior designer, to give it the once over and give us his feedback. As we hoped, he was candid. Very candid…

Many people jumped on Prezi because it could do something PowerPoint couldn’t do. However what people forget in their hurry to jump the PowerPoint ship is that PowerPoint does many many things Prezi can’t do.

Even Prezi are beginning to recognise this as they have now introduced fade animations – an important admission that PowerPoint isn’t all evil and that man cannot live by zoom and pan alone.

In my opinion, the biggest thing Prezi has going against it is the first pan or zoom kicks in as soon as you fire it up.  As a result, the entire audience immediately labels it “oh, a Prezi” which could turn off elements of your audience if they have something against it.

I really think Microsoft missed a trick in not incorporating a similar zoom ability into PowerPoint 2013 – Prezi has been around long enough now to show there is a need for this style of moving around information. The ‘Grow/shrink’ emphasis animation in PowerPoint kills everything with its pixellation, no matter whether it’s a vector or rasterized graphic.

What’s it like to work with?

Prezi is limited by not being able to generate elements of the presentation WITHIN the software. Basically everything needs to be imported.

Vector graphics can be imported by saving them as a pdf, but once inside Prezi we have no ability to change fill colour, stroke etc. The very limited amount of shapes one can generate inside Prezi is further limited by the restrictive colour palette and lack of access to gradient fills etc.

Content generation is something that has come on a very long way within PowerPoint. Sure, many people STILL greatly overuse drop shadows and bevel edges, but the results when used effectively, along with 3D controls and Combine Shapes feature make PowerPoint very powerful.

In conclusion…

Prezi is great for displaying certain types of information or telling a certain type of story BUT they should be conceptually built from the ground up to work in this format. Ultimately they need to have a reason to be a Prezi and not a PowerPoint. Shoehorning every type of presentation into this format is as wrong as say using the Bounce animation with shotgun sound on every slide of your PowerPoint presentation!

If Prezi did more, it would be harder to pigeonhole it as ‘that one trick pony’.

But here lies the risk of losing their differentiation or bloating the software with too many bulky, distracting options… So on reflection, maybe its best that Prezi stays roughly as it is and the responsibility is put with the presenter as to when and when not to take it out of the tool box and put it to use.

Thanks Dan!

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2 Responses to “From The Studio – A Designer’s View of Prezi”

  1. Rick Altman says:

    Excellent analysis. Prezi is going to have a strong presence at this year’s Presentation Summit and I am hopeful that this article reflects the tone that is taken in discussing Prezi’s role and contribution in the presentation industry.

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