• Data Points: Visualization That Means Something
    Data Points: Visualization That Means Something

Different Audiences, Different Process Graphics

I came across a simple, but excellent example of process graphics in Michael Bierut's new book, How To. Above are two pages from the printed brand guidelines for the design of United Airline's once low cost sub-brand called TED. 

As part of the design and branding work, Michael's firm Pentagram wanted to show how the different divisions of United Airlines all fit together. Instead of a single visual ("process graphic"), they created two: one for internal audiences (on the left) and one for external audiences (on the right.)

This is a great reminder for me that one story does not always mean one single graphic. Think about your audience, think about their level of knowledge, think about what you want them to take away from your grpahic.

Below is the full page from Michael's new book.


PowerPoint: New Direction, Major New Features


I recently returned from the annual Microsoft MVP Summit at Redmond HQ. Over the course of 3 days of intimate sessions with the PowerPoint and Office development teams, I got a preview of where Microsoft is headed in the coming years with their Office products including PowerPoint. And it's very exciting.

More Frequent Updates

The largest shift is the one to a more nimble product improvement schedule. As users transition to the Office 365 subscription model, gone will be the days of major product releases every 3 years. Instead, subscription users will see frequent software updates. In fact, frequent and rapid product improvement is now a corporate mandate for the development teams, in addition to convergence of user experiences across all platforms and hardwares. The goal for the latter is for users to have the exact same experience using PowerPoint on the Mac, PC, tablet, mobile, online, etc. In terms of frequent product improvements, many of these will be small and often invisible (security patches, bug fixes), but some will be rather ground-breaking new features that promise to dramatically improve user efficiency and in the case of PowerPoint, the quality of user-created presentations.

Case in point is the news of two brand-new features due to be released in the next few weeks:


PowerPoint finally has an answer to Keynote's Magic Move! The new feature called "Morph" does away with the need to actually animate objects by letting the user create a pair of slides with the desired beginning and end states of layout and design. By applying Morph as a slide transition, PowerPoint does the incredibly heavy lifting of interpolating the two states and applying an animation that morphs the beginning state into the next. The simplest example of this would be a title slide with a large centered logo. Starting on slide 2, that same logo is placed much smaller and in the corner. Simply apply the Morph transition and you'll see that large logo shrink down and move to the corner. That's it!

This really is a game changer that can not only save hours of animation time, but will also open up endless possibilities for creating more fluid, interactive and even Prezi-like slides that zoom in and out of content. 


The second feature aims to put me and other professional presentation designers out of business. Well, not really, but it does attempt to provide automatic layout and design help for the average user. Designer takes user content (imagery and text) on a slide that has been placed into a Microsoft theme, and then based on that content, gives a number of layout suggestions that instantly turn lame slides into professionally designed ones. It's much more than just applying different master layouts as it takes into account the actual image and text themselves and intelligently creates an entirely composed slide.

It seems as though Microsoft has been looking at the work of professional presentation designers over the years and has been actively thinking about how to provide that level of quality to the average user from within the program itself. Watch the demo video above and read more about these new features at the Microsoft Blog.

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Office Insider & Providing Feedback to Microsoft

Both Morph and Designer will, like many complex software features, arrive as first generations. Over time, I have no doubt that they will improve in functionality and depth of use. And with Microsoft's new release philosophy, you most certainly will not have to wait three years to see those improvements. To get on the most inside of tracks with new releases, sign up for the new Office Insider Program which will give you the earliest access to new features. This is available only to Office 365 users.

And if you have feature requests and are interested in providing feeback directly to Microsoft, check in regularly at where you request and vote on new features. Trust me, Microsoft actively monitors user feedback and as we can now see from Morph, does eventually listen!


Michael Bierut's How To

Just sitting here reading, watching and playing with 3 wonderful new things:

  1. My new puppy, Banksy
  2. The 2nd Season of Fargo
  3. Michael Bierut's How To

I had the great fortune of working with Michael for a short period on a joint pitch, and he's as about down to earth as his work is at the vanguard of contemporary graphic design.

Michael has written a great deal over the years including a touching tribute to his mentor Massimo Vignelli, this collection of essays on design and much more. But this is his first monograph, and it's an excellent look into the work and way of working of one of the world's top graphic designers. It definitely belongs on every designer's shelf.

Cole, your new book is up next...


Social Share Plugin for PowerPoint

The Microsoft Garage project lab has released Social Share, a free plug-in for PowerPoint to allow for instant social sharing of presentations and parts of presentations from within the program. You can share a whole deck or just a single composed slide.

Here's a little video demo. 


5 Strategies for Convincing The Boss to Present Differently

One of the questions I hear most often following a corporate training is: “How do I get my boss on board? She still insists on endless bullet points."
Believe me, it’s frustrating for me as well to train a whole team from a company to present more effectively only to have the CEO (who missed the training) insist everyone revert to death by bullet points because it’s all he understands.
Managing up in any situation and convincing the boss to change course is a delicate art, but here are five strategies for doing exactly that when it comes to presenting with fewer words:

1. Show, Don’t Tell

People make bad presentations because they see bad presentations. From college and MBA programs through to entry-level positions and management positions, most people are simply never taught how to present information well. And so, corporate America emulates the presentations they see being created by clients, colleagues and superiors. 
To counteract this, use every opportunity to show the powers that be what good presentations look like. When I first read Nancy Duarte’s Resonate, I was thrilled to see an example of a presentation given by GE CMO Beth Comstock filled with beautiful large photos. I immediately copied the pages and sent them around to my then company’s team that worked with GE. “Show your clients how their boss is presenting,” I told my team.

Collect good presentations every time you see them, and show everyone you can what good slide decks actually look like. Send PDFs, links to TED Talks, hard copies of agency pitch decks or sales presentations you come across.

2. Preach the Golden Rule of Presentation

Okay, “preaching” and managing up are not always compatible, but try to remind others of the Golden Rule of Presentation: Present Unto Others How You Wish to Be Presented To. If your CEO complains about being given bullet-point ridden decks, remind her that you can help create better slides for her to deliver to others.

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