Monday, 16 December 2013

Adobe InDesign – Just for Print? Think again.

We have discussed presentations for business using an iPad previously. Today we’ll be looking at using Adobe’s InDesign as a tool for creating presentations for the iPad.

InDesign is widely recognised as the premier print layout and digital publishing tool; we use it all the time for creating brochures, leaflets, business cards – almost all of our print output, so we were as surprised as anyone when we when we heard about this too. Via the free ‘Adobe Content Viewer’ app available for the iPad and the Adobe Digital Publishing Patch for InDesign on the PC or Mac, content created in InDesign can be downloaded and viewed directly on the iPad through your Adobe Creative Cloud account. Creative Cloud accounts are available for free from Adobe. The app doesn’t support InDesign animations and the only transition is the page flick. We feel this tool is aimed more towards the production of digital magazines than presentations. It does do a good job of hyperlinking content and it also plays video well too – with options to play in a window or full screen.

Ease of use: If you use InDesign already, you will be right at home creating content for the iPad. Any presentations created are uploaded through your Creative Cloud logon and downloaded through the app the same way.

Cost: We use the full Adobe Creative Suite in our studio so this addon was free for us however; InDesign is roughly £350 for a standalone licence. Although a Creative Cloud account is free from Adobe, software such as InDesign can be used through this service via monthly or yearly subscriptions.

Final thoughts: We thought this was a great PowerPoint alternative in terms of cost (as we already use the Adobe Master Collection which includes InDesign) and ease of use. The only thing letting this solution down is the fact that the animations and transitions in InDesign are all currently Flash based (so unsupported by the iPad). Considering how some of Adobe’s other applications have already begun to support HTML-5 animations, I wouldn’t be surprised if this changed in the near future, but for now we feel this is a fairly decent alterative.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bring your content to life with Kinetic Text

Kinetic Typography Header Image

Kinetic typography, perhaps more simply defined as ‘moving text’, is an animation technique that fuses text and motion. Increasingly present in popular culture, kinetic text is a dynamic, engaging way to bring ideas to life and is perhaps an appropriate tool for your business…
First coming to prominence in Hitchcock’s enticing title sequences of the 60’s, kinetic text takes a standard, un-inspiring bulk of text and, through movement and graphic style, transforms it to better portray the information.

Reading a large chunk of text can become incredibly dull and monotonous for any audience. With kinetic text animations this copy is brought to life and emphasised through variation in font, size, colour, motion, angles, shapes etc. Key messages can be enhanced in the layout and timing of the piece, whilst iconography and graphics can create visual metaphors to support them further.
This great piece on procrastination is a fantastic example of engaging text and illustrates exactly how specific sections can be highlighted.

A very current style in the design world, kinetic text is often supported by narration, or created directly from narration (as in the video above). This works incredibly well as this form of visual communication can really add to the voice. Subtle movements and visual motifs can paint a picture of whose voice the audience is hearing and therefore – as with every presentation – a good script is essential.

This video encapsulates two different ‘voices’ and shows how their individual personalities can be reflected through animation and visual style.

Kinetic text captures audience attention and manipulates it to key areas, becoming far more memorable than block text. This is perhaps why many organisations now have ‘Who We Are’ text animations that help sum them up as a business. More personal than a couple of bullet-pointed slides and unique to their ‘voice,’ these animations can provide a great overview that is both interesting and informative. A gardening business, for example, could feature their text growing from shoots, floating down on leaves, or being trimmed by a mower: there are endless possibilities to be creative with text and this is perhaps why this creative trend may be around for a while yet; we even made one for ourselves.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Microsoft’s Answer to Presenting on the iPad – SkyDrive & WebApps

We have discussed presentations for business using an iPad previously. Today we’ll be looking at Microsoft’s offering, SkyDrive & WebApps in more depth.

Microsoft has recently released their Office app for the iPhone and latest iPod touch only. Their reasoning behind this is that SkyDrive & Web Apps are already available for the iPad. These work through the web browser on the iPad where you can access and edit your Office files online.

Unfortunately, we found that there are some irritating issues which regrettably let the service down; slideshows didn’t display in full screen (pinching to zoom in on them ended up with horrible pixilation of the presentation) and as the presentations are stored in the cloud, when we turned off the internet connection we were surprised to find that whilst the presentation still played fine the video content did not.

Ease of use: SkyDrive is very simple to use and many businesses will be using it (or at least SharePoint which works in a similar way) already. The web apps run Office software directly from SkyDrive in your browser with a simple click.

Cost: SkyDrive & WebApps is free. All that is required is a Microsoft logon which again, costs nothing to create.

Final thoughts: Considering this is from Microsoft, we were disappointed with the issues we encountered and really wish Microsoft would just release an official app for the iPad. The iPhone/iPod app is currently free if you are paying for the subscription based Office 2013 service. We think they would get a lot more subscribers if they offered the same app and scheme on the iPad.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Presentations for Business using an iPad

As professional presentation designers we predominantly use Microsoft PowerPoint to create presentations for our customers, the main reason for this?

Compatibility. A very large proportion of our clients are PC, or more specifically MS Office based and using PowerPoint. The content we create needs to not only be viewed by them, but also edited, simply and with minimal hiccups.

Three and a half years on from its launch the Apple iPad is still the tablet market leader. Its initial success throughout the home consumer market has now spread, to the business sector too. And this is where as presentation designers we are faced with a problem… PowerPoint is not currently compatible with the iPad.
Whilst Microsoft have just released their Office app for the iPhone and latest iPod touch models, which is of course a huge step in the right direction, there is still no sign of a release for the iPad.

Clearly our clients want to utilise the stylish and portable nature of the iPad, but they also need a flexible, creative and presentation solution so what options are available.

Over the next few weeks we will cover some alternative presentation software solutions we have found and the advantages/disadvantages of each:

Adobe Captivate An e-learning suite for the PC that supports HTML5 conversion of PowerPoint presentations.

Adobe Edge Animate A new animation based program from Adobe that is completely HTML-5 based and therefore compatible with every web browser.

Adobe InDesign Widely recognised as the premier print layout and digital publishing tool, InDesign also offers export options for the iPad such as PDF.

CloudOn An application that can download and play PowerPoint files via Dropbox or SkyDrive from within the app. It offers some basic editing tools.

iSpring – A PowerPoint addon that converts presentations into HTML-5. Once converted, presentations can be downloaded from the web onto the iSpring app for offline viewing.

Keynote Considered to be the ‘Apple alternative to PowerPoint’, Keynote offers many of the same features to Microsoft’s counterpart. A dedicated Keynote app is available on the iPad however; to easily edit content a pricey Apple Mac is required.

PDF Developed in the early 1990s as a way to share documents, including text and images, among computer users of disparate platforms; PDF files have become the format of choice when something absolutely has to be viewable by virtually anyone.

Prezi – A cloud based presentation software that mixes whiteboard drawings and slides. The zoomable canvas has proved to be quite popular with its fast growing user base.

SlideShark We have blogged about SlideShark before; which you can read here. It is a free mobile app which enables PowerPoint presentations to be run from the iPad.

SkyDrive/Web Apps Microsoft’s SkyDrive combined with Web Apps allows the viewing and editing of PowerPoint presentations from within a web browser.

Our alternatives listed here are by no means the full extent of solutions available; as new software arrives on the market we will review it and look out for further updates to existing presentation alternatives. With the uncertainty around whether or not Microsoft will release a full iPad app, these alternatives are currently our only choice. Depending on the type of presentation that needs to be created, we can and have put some of these programs and apps to use successfully already.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Presentation software reviews

Here at Bearfoot Graphics we are always keeping our eye on the latest presentation software. As presentation designers and live event operators we are always curious to see what has been released and how we can use it for our next projects.
We’ve got 3 new applications to review this time, Air Sketch, SlideKloud and an update to The Haiku Deck.

Air Sketch
Air sketch is an iPad app which transforms your iPad into a live whiteboard. Simply open a PDF document on your iPad through the Air Sketch app, the document on your iPad is now yours to annotate or draw on, appearing instantly on the screen allowing you to walk around the room making points as you go. You can even hand the iPad to an audience member to make a note or highlight a point too.
The app comes with a range of tools to use when annotating the page including a pen, brush, marker, pencil and a highlighter. You can also password protect the URL in case of sensitive information.
There are limitations to this app, you will need a Wi-Fi connection (it doesn’t work on 3G), and you must be running a browser that supports HTML 5 on the device being used to project, and the annotations speed of appearance depends on the internet connection speed too. The only documents you can use are PDF’s so if you had a PowerPoint or keynote presentation you would need to output as a PDF is order to use Air Sketch.
It’s a great tool for teaching, explaining complex work is easier, getting the audience to focus on a particular diagram, much better than a laser pointer.  The audience interaction is the key selling feature of this app, and I think, used with a small audience cold be a real asset.

SlideKloud is an audience engagement app aimed at making presentations into conversations. There are a number of features to track the audience’s participation with your presentation including polling data on slide specific questions and the ability to comment and ask questions.
The app can be used on a smartphone, tablet or laptop through the cloud; there are both Android and Apple versions of the app. The presenter uploads their presentation to their device then pushes it to the audiences own devices via the cloud. Audience members logon to the app and are able to view the presentation as well as any interaction set up by the presenter. The audience are also able to save personal notes on individual slides, share comments and ask questions to the presenter all in real time.
To take full advantage of this app, the presenter will need to add into their presentation relevant questions to gauge opinions, knowledge and ideas.
Once the presentation is finished the analytics are in depth and provide the presenter with a wealth of data. There are some restrictions though, you must have Wi-Fi to use it as it’s entirely cloud based, and there is a monthly fee depending on how many presentation you may give.
I’m not sure if this app is a little over complicated for a standard conference or talk. Audience engagement and interaction is vital when giving presentations but I’m not sure getting an audience of 250 to logon using their smartphones is practical. I think this app has the potential to be really beneficial on a much smaller scale, where you can get a true reflection of the audience’s opinion and it’s a lot easier to co-ordinate.
To really see the benefits of this app, the presenter needs to think clearly about audience engagement as a first thought not an afterthought. Just adding in a question at the end won’t utilize this app effectively.

Haiku Deck 2.0
We reviewed the Haiku Deck a while ago and found it to be a nice(what kind of word is this?) app it certainly created nicer looking presentations but in our opinion more thought is needed to go into crafting presentations than just nice images.
Now they’ve released v2.0, the new update with new features. There have been big improvements to image adjustments, you can now crop, zoom and reposition images a lot easier. The image picker has also been improved giving better results for your content.
Unfortunately they have added in additional features including charts and bullet points. Although they have tried to keep them as simple as possible, this for us feels like they are heading down a road that follows the traditional presentation style and not the free thinking style that we really liked about the Haiku deck initially.
The charts are simple enough to compile, double tapping allows you to input figures and you can drag and pull to increase bars or pie pieces too. The chart styles are limited to Bar, Pie or Stat to keep it simple. One feature that is quite nice is in show mode if you tab on a piece of the chart, the rest will be greyed out highlighting that section. 
The bullet point addition again has some limitations, a maximum of five bullets on a slide and they can only be bulleted or numbered.
This update gives an improved social media interaction with Facebook, twitter and blogs; it is still a free app and can be exported to Keynote and PowerPoint for use at a meeting or conference.
The Haiku Deck update has definitely provided some great new improvements, but the introduction of charts and bullet points doesn’t sit well with us, their motto is “set your story free” not with bullet points I’m afraid.

If you like to talk to us about how new software can help your next event please feel free to call 01420 520 865

Friday, 17 May 2013

Bearfoot Graphics onsite graphics operators ensure your live events run smoothly

There is no doubt that working live in any profession is pretty daunting, this is never more true than working as a graphic designer on live events and conferences. The ability of the onsite graphics operator to rise to the challenge and really feel at home backstage can make the difference between a successful event and an unsuccessful one.

With a collective experience of over 30 years in the live events industry, our onsite graphic operators have been involved in pretty much every type of event, from intimate business meetings to large car launches to multi-room corporate conferences and even a couple of events which included indoor live ammo and chainsaw demonstrations!

We are not just PowerPoint operators. We are creative graphic designers too. We know what content will work on screen and, more importantly, what won’t. We understand the power of imagery and the clarity of correct fonts and colours. We love creating stunning graphics to enhance the event’s theme making the content interesting and memorable.

Interpreting slide content is one of our best skills, we constantly work hard to help our speakers unlock the power of their presentations by developing effective content and helping them to deliver it in a compelling way.

With so many events under our belt we really understand audiences, we use this experience to suggest strategies to the presenter, which will aid them in delivering their message to the audience without distracting them.

Presenting at an event can be a stressful experience, we believe that it is very important for a speaker to feel supported and have someone on their side. Our experienced onsite team work hard to create a rapport with the speaker very early on, we see it as being crucial to creating great graphics for them. A friendly, can do attitude goes a long way to developing this relationship and is something we pride ourselves on. Really getting to know the presenter, their content and how they like to present, makes pre-production, rehearsals on site and the event run smoothly.
Our role differs from job to job, but we are more than comfortable with any situation, from following the cue light or working with the speaker and autocue operator to mark up a script and create graphics.
The buzz of a live event is something you just can’t replicate in the studio, speakers often deviate from the rehearsal or change their mind, technical issues arise and you need to react fast and calmly and you most definitely have to be able think on your feet. But it’s what we’re well used to and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We love working in the live events industry and hope we can work with you again soon.
Call us on 01420 520 865 to discuss your next live event project and how we can help.

Top 5 reasons why you should use illustrative elements in your designs

1. Explain and demonstrate a point or add context to a piece of text
This technique really helps a text heavy piece of design, it breaks up the piece making it far more engaging for the viewer. If for instance you have a list of locations, placing them on a stylised map helps to add context for the viewer giving them additional locational information.

2. Create a relevant but unique theme or feel to a design
Using illustration to create custom icons, backgrounds and other creative elements gives a design a very unique and distinctive feel. This can be approached in a variety of ways, for example adding an abstract digital illustration, delicate hand drawn imagery or decorative elements.

3. A picture says a thousand words, by communicating information through imagery, it is likely to be more interesting than text and easier for the viewer to understand
This is particularly useful when considering how to represent data in a more viewer friendly way. Infographics are a creative, illustrative and appealing way to visualise statistics, aiding the communication of complex ideas and information. Next time you get one of those awfully complicated graphs or charts to deal with this is definitely worth a try!

4. Purely as an abstract decorative element to make a design more visually appealing
Perhaps your design doesn’t have any suitable content to rework into an illustrative element or the subject matter just isn’t something that would benefit from being illustrated either, this doesn’t mean it has to stay as just text. Subtle and neutral illustrative elements can be introduced purely to make the piece more visually interesting. Adding a highly abstract element such as a background, hand drawn boxes or directional symbols, can often add real value to your design, attracting attention or engaging your audience.

5. Just because you can!
Adding illustration to your designs adds that extra creative touch, you never know, it might just be the key ingredient in attracting attention to a piece of design that they may otherwise have disregarded.

The Importance of a Great Logo Design

At Bearfoot Graphics we believe a key factor to building a successful business is creating an appropriate and effective brand identity. As part of this it is really important to have a great logo that communicates your brand clearly, but is also unique and appealing and sets your business apart from your competitors. We believe that a successful logo is one which provides a clear, positive and professional representation of what your company does and what you stand for. Your logo should attract the attention of your target customer/consumer, through a design that either appeals to them visually, or demonstrates that the company provides the service that fulfils their needs.
There are a number of elements to consider when creating a new logo
1. The name of the business, this is the core of the design, other elements should work to enhance the representation and meaning of the name.
2. The brandmark or illustrative element that is included in addition to the text.  This element acts as a visual signifier of the brand and in many instances is also used to give more context to the brand name. Although there are some very successful brands with a purely typographic logo, most tend to be made up of at least these two key parts.
3. Alongside the brandname and brandmark, a possible strapline can be used and then there is the consideration of a colour palette and typeface choices. The aim of all these elements is to collectively communicate the desired impression of the business that the company wish to make on the viewer in order to attract their target market or consumer.
Logos which have stood the test of time
Nike chose a brand name with a great deal of meaning behind it. Nike, Greek goddess of victory, her siblings representing force, strength and rivalry; all qualities or goals to which their stereotypical target consumer aspire, whilst also representing Nike’s own brand values. The typeface chosen for the word “NIKE” was specifically selected to represent the key traits of a sportsperson, such as to be strong, solid and bold. Italicisation implies movement and speed. The iconic Nike “swoosh” brandmark clearly relates to the brandname, it is meant to symbolise the flight of the goddess. Cleverly, this “swoosh” is also shaped as a tick, automatically associated with positive connotations, as if to imply the brand is a great choice. The specific shape and design of the tick also gives the impression of speed, smoothness and streamline, which again would be appealing qualities to athletes that Nike would hope to attract as customers.  The “swoosh” is a perfect example of how a brandmark has become so widely recognised that it can stand alone as an icon of the brand and still be easily recognised by many. This has then enabled Nike to use it as a signifier of the brand that they can manipulate to target more specific markets; such as gender or type of sport, by altering the colour or adding additional elements to customise the “swoosh” to have greater appeal to the particular market. Alongside these two main elements the strapline of “just do it” is well known and gives an added sense of energy, power and drive, all key brand values that attract the attention of their target market.

We have implemented these successful theories and methods within our own designs. Examples of how we have done this can be seen in our brand identity and creation for our friends at Smart Talk. The main focus of the logo is the name “Smart Talk”, this has then been enhanced and reflected by the added speech bubble design element, which adds context to the name. The logo is designed within a square, allowing for the bubble to be formed, and bringing the elements together to form a workable structure which can easily be placed onto a range of designs and layouts. This creates synergy throughout all the businesses branded materials, as seen with the business card and compliment slip.
If you need something new and are thinking about a rebrand, or just a refresh of your identity, give us a call or drop us an email, we would love to show you what we can do!

Taking Your Business To A New Dimension

One key factor in creating a successful business is to stand out from the competition in the eyes of your customers. Your products features and benefits need to be easily recognisable; demonstrating them effectively however, this is often a difficult task. The integration of high resolution 3D models and lifelike digital animation provides a solution in which potential clients can visualise a product’s uses and advantages in a way far more effective than any still image or word, written or spoken could ever be.

A 3D model is a representation of an image or idea that is simulated in a computer generated 3-dimentional environment. The technique of visualising designs in 3D is an effective way to communicate fictitious, abstract and real ideas. Anything from characters, objects or full environments can be created in 3D space. Your imagination really is the limit. Some of the other terms used to represent 3D graphics you may have heard of are artist impressions, renders, stills and CGI (computer generated imagery).

We have all witnessed 3D animation being used in big budget Hollywood blockbusters (like Star Wars) and in family films (such as Toy Story) but how many of us have seriously thought of using them within our businesses?

Historically, 3D visuals were only used in the film industry because of the time consuming process and high expense. However recent technology and software advances, have led to dramatic reductions both in cost and the time involved, putting 3D firmly within the reach of most businesses. Nowadays 3D visuals are commonly used in the business environment being frequently incorporated into commercials as well as other forms of B2B (Business-To-Business) and B2C (Business-To-Consumer) corporate communication.
So what are the advantages with the use of 3D technology?
  • Exact proportions and dimensions can be used. Combining this with photorealistic renders mean very accurate concepts can be created.
  • Early visualisation of a product allows final adjustments to be made prior to moving onto the expensive production process reducing both cost and the chance of errors.
  • Objects can be scaled up or down, rotated and moved. This dynamic interaction allows objects to be viewed from any angle and displayed just as intended.
  • Models can be reused rather than be created from scratch every time. This means they can be used on any type of media with ease (screen, print, web).
  • 3D visuals can often be cheaper to produce than using live actors – there are no film crew costs or studio and prop rental expenses.
  • For pitching there are massive benefits to using 3D visuals to demonstrate ideas or concepts before outlaying much larger costs.
  • Different styles can be used to present your object. Photo-realistic, cel-shaded (for a cartoon feel), untextured (a basic looking model that can be produced relatively quickly) or CAD renders (which are used mostly for technical representation for engineers, architects etc.).
  • Internal training videos can be enhanced and become more memorable.
  • By utilising 3D within you’re your business, your company logo and messages come to life making them a lot more engaging for your audience.
Here at Bearfoot Graphics, we offer a full 3D design solution – from concept to creation. This includes:
Hubert the Bear
BrightFuture Exhibition Walkthrough
Bearwick Whisky
So You Think Know London?
If you would like to know how 3D visuals would help to promote you, your product or your business get in contact. We can advise as to what type of visuals you need, when you need them and how they help to communicate with your audience.

Why use infographics to communicate your data

We work on a lot of presentations, working in the live events industry we see how information is presented and the best and worst ways of explaining data. No matter what platform we are using, the capability of interpreting numbers and making it easy, concise and memorable for the audience is where design really communicates the messages.
Using a chart and filling it with copious amounts of data is simple, but no one needs to know every week of the year’s sales increase. You need to give the audience context and make it interesting to view. Keeping people involved and relaying this information in an unusual way will help them remember the information and learn from your presentation.
One of the best ways to do this is to use infographics. They’re instantly understandable and can be designed incredible well. The great thing about infographics is that almost anything can be interpreted using them.
Now some might say pie charts and bar graphs are infographics, and they wouldn’t be wrong at all. They definitely illustrate data, where they fail is that no one really thinks when creating these kinds of charts as it is done so often, and therefore no thought goes into whether the message behind it is clear to the audience and more importantly if it’s interesting.
We see infographics every day, in newspapers and magazines and one of the most famous infographics is the London Tube map. If you looked at a true representation of the Tube network it would be impossible to navigate and use, the design behind the London Tube map is incredibly complex yet produces something so simple and easy to use, this is the result of great infographics.
Really thinking about and designing your infographics can lead to some amazingly creative, thought provoking and logical ways of relaying your messages and data.
Some of our favourites have been comical but some of them have been on really serious topics. We’ve got a few of them below; we hope you can see the possibilities and benefits of using infographics.

Top tips to branding a new company

Where to begin – before you make a start on any design work for your business you need to establish your brand identity and develop a brand strategy. To do this you must establish what it is your business stands for, what makes you different from other businesses, and the benefits that your product or service offers to your customers. Once this is done formulate a communications plan that enables you to highlight your offering and differentiates your service or product from that of your competitors.
Establishing your brand values – it is really important to establish a set of brand values that make up your company ethos. They often include a mission statement, what the company stands for, and how the company wishes to be perceived by the customer. These are often incorporated into a brand story or history of the business. Although they may not feature on smaller pieces of marketing material, it is really useful to have established them in your branding process as they are likely to be featured within website content or as part of your company presentations.
Getting the logo right – it is essential that the logo created to represent your brand is tailored perfectly to be a clear icon of all that your company embodies. Firstly, you need to ensure that any typeface you select has strong readability so that it clearly communicates the name of the business. The next element to think about would be a form of brand mark, such as an icon, image or abstract shape that accompanies the brand name to give a greater sense of identity and enables the brand to stand out and be easily recognised. Another element to consider may be a strapline or statement about the business that can be used as part of the logo. This could also be used separately as a feature on any marketing collateral or stationery. Remember, this strapline needs to underscore the benefit of the company to the customer, not just remark on how great the company is; it needs to clearly highlight what the consumer can expect of the brand.
Defining brand guidelines – it is really important to define rules as to how your brand identity may be recreated, used and applied, so that you retain consistency throughout all your branded materials. This is necessary as any inconsistencies in your brand application could serve to confuse the consumer and detract from the credible and trustworthy impression you wish to create. These brand guidelines need to include a breakdown of the logo, stating typeface specifications, and any size restrictions. Guidelines should also denote the colour references for your brand colours; the choices for your scheme are key to creating the desired feel for your brand, colours can convey a multitude of emotions and have certain specific connotations, so you must select these very carefully. You may like to consider if your logo can be used in other colour variations which might give a little more freedom, or if repetition of a decorative element of the logo could be used to create a brand pattern. Defining guidelines for the style of imagery used within any of your branded material is another way to ensure greater consistency throughout your marketing. Examples of this may relate to the subject, feel or focus of any photography. For icons it would be useful to decide whether these should be flat or used with more of a 3D feel. If you wish to include more artistic illustrations you should select a specific style for these in terms of medium. A final suggestion for your brand guidelines would be to set a tone of voice for any written communication. This tone of voice will be determined by who your market is and your choice of strategy to best communicate your message and product/services to them. So whether the resultant tone is formal, relaxed, technical or quirky, you should remember it must always remain consistent and stay true your brand values to reinforce the brand identity.
Brand application – once you have decided on your logo and brand guidelines you can then begin to apply this to all your marketing collateral. By applying your branding across all your company assets and promotional material you create consistency which adds a real sense of professionalism, quality and in turn credibility. Remember, applying branding doesn’t necessarily mean placing your logo on everything, it can be more subtle, such as through the use of a particular brand colour, or it may be as simple as ensuring all typographic elements are consistent with the brand fonts.
If you need any help with your branding or marketing communication please feel free to contact us.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

SlideShark for iPad review

Love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint rules the presentation world and with the emergence of the iPad as the most desirable business tool of recent years, opportunities for businesses to present themselves and their messages to their audience have never been greater. So what’s the problem?
Until recently, PowerPoint and the iPad just didn’t get on that well. You’d get laughed at for even attempting to open a PowerPoint document on the iPad. Things however are changing. Several compatible apps have become available and one of the best we’ve used so far is SlideShark.

SlideShark for iPad review

The SlideShark app allows PowerPoint users to view and present presentations on the iPad. PowerPoint files are uploaded to SlideShark’s server where they are converted and optimised to run in the app. Animations, fonts, graphics and colours are all preserved. Once a presentation has been converted it is saved onto the SlideShark server where it can be downloaded and stored directly onto the iPad for offline use or shared with others.
Recent updates to SlideShark have made the app compatible with presentations containing hyperlinks and also with various cloud based services including DropBox and Google Drive for downloading PowerPoint decks.
The app is completely free to download and use at a basic level. This limits you to 100MB of storage although it can be freed up by removing old shows. If the space provided isn’t enough, it can be expanded for a yearly subscription fee.
We found uploading PowerPoint presentations through the app or through SlideShark’s website to be a very simple process and it happily converted quite large PowerPoint shows relatively quickly.

SlideShark for iPad review

The app feels fluid and very intuitive – there was no need to revisted the demo to find a feature or work out how to navigate through the app. When in show-mode the slides progress using taps or swipes to move forwards and backwards. Swiping vertically on the screen brings up slide-sorter enabling the user to jump quickly to a specific slide or go back to the main menu.

SlideShark for iPad review

In general, SlideShark dealt with our content well; whilst SlideShark themselves claim that advanced animations may not be compatible; we found it displayed everything we tried perfectly which really surprised us. It also managed to keep all images and graphics we had created intact too.
Our experience with SlideShark wasn’t entirely flawless though. Issues arose around how well it dealt with non-standard fonts – always an issue with PC/mac compatibility. In fact, some weren’t readable at all after they had been converted. Embedding the fonts to try to solve this issue didn’t work either, in actually resulted in the conversion process failing.

SlideShark for iPad review

The bigger frustration with the app is that it doesn’t support slide transitions, however the app is being updated with new features all the time. We’d be really surprised if a solution wasn’t in the pipeline to be implemented soon, even so it’s a shame it doesn’t support any basic ones at the moment.
Lastly, the app is only a viewer and player. You cannot actually edit any of the slides or their content, but it was never advertised as a feature so this wasn’t really an issue. Some other apps we have used including QuickOffice or DocsToGo do allow slide editing but don’t support a lot of the animations or playback features that SlideShark does.
Overall, we are really impressed with SlideShark. Bar some small niggles which can be worked around or may even end up being improved or added down the line, it handled most of our content extremely well. If you need to show PowerPoint presentations in a slick, simple way on-the-go (and have an iPad), we would fully recommend this app!