Every year, Mary Meeker delivers a presentation with tons of insight into internet trends. Every year, designers (and, let’s face it, business people) everywhere feel overwhelmed by the amount of information displayed on her slides. One designer, Emiland De Cubber, decided to take a pass at cleaning up Meeker’s slides, and his work was featured in this article in Business Week. As a designer working at a shop that specializes in presentations, I have to ask: Is the re-design effective?
Taking Liberties with the Content
De Cubber took subtle liberties with the content, meaning that in addition to reworking the visuals, he changed titles, subtitles, and labels.
Why it Works
His content revisions help the audience focus on the most important information, which improves audience comprehension.
Many inexperienced presentation designers don’t take the time to understand the main point that a slide is trying to convey. Instead, they simply translate the words into cliché visuals. However, based on the vernacular of the slides and the truncation of some of the content, it seems De Cubber made the effort to understand what the slides said, and successfully removed content noise.
Consistent Grid and Color Palette
De Cubber implemented a grid and a consistent color palette in his re-design.
Why it Works
The consistent grid and color palette help the audience focus on the most important pieces of information. A grid keeps the content organized so that the eye can flow across the screen, and the audience knows exactly where to look for the next piece of information.
Print Design Principles
My only concern about De Cubber’s design is that it appears to be utilizing principles more suited for print design.
Why it Doesn’t Work
Although De Cubber removed a lot of noise with his content revisions and cleaner visuals, the slides are still challenging. He used low color contrast and small font sizes, making it difficult to read the slides and see the details on a projected screen. If you’re presenting to a large audience, you need to increase the contrast on the slide by using brighter colors so that your text and visuals will stand out.
Most of Meeker’s slides would be more effective as slidedocs. The slidedoc format would allow audience members to read the chart information in detail, and allow for Meeker to add more context around her ideas. Slidedocs can be shared on a platform like slideshare to ensure that the message still spreads, but you’ll lose your audience if you present slides that are too difficult to see. In fact, Meeker’s book, USA, Inc., is an example of presenting information via a slidedoc.
I was pleased to see that Meeker’s slides were re-designed in a way that incorporates numerous best practices for presentation design. Instead of sticking to just one set of design rules, De Cubber kept the information in the presentation mostly intact, but cleaned it up to make it more readable. Meeker shares powerful insights in her trends report, and I look forward to seeing her information displayed in a visual way next year!