Refer to Part 1 of this blog post for the origins and business uses of slidedocs.
Learning from Designers
While skimming through Duarte’s book/slidedoc, I was amused by her guidance on pages 99-136, how to design a slidedoc. These concepts are so familiar — the ideas that the publishing industry advocated years ago when companies like Adobe, Aldus and Quark tried to teach basic design principles to business people.
Although there’s a new generation of people sitting in front of computers these days, the design principles remain constant:
- Consistent use of grids to organize material
- A simple design vocabulary
- A consistent color palette
- Effective use of white space
- Effective selection of fonts and a hierarchy of font families and sizes for different purposes
- Section breaks and visual cues to tell you where you are in the document
Duarte’s examples and her fundamental design recommendations make this a very helpful resource for people who care about making their case more effectively. At the very least it’s a good reminder of basic principles for effective communications in the world of ADD readers.
Here are two examples in which she explains the underlying design strategy for her slidedoc.
Designing Your Own Slidedocs
Duarte encourages people to use PowerPoint or Keynote to create slidedocs. These tools are ideally suited to one-idea-per-page document creation. They also excel at rearranging the sequence of slides or pages in the document (in slide sorter view).
If you have high standards for design, these tools have limitations when it comes to customizing a theme for specific font choices and colors, when those are related to structural elements within your slidedoc. PowerPoint is particularly weak in this regard for Mac users.
They are also somewhat limited when it comes to designing grid structures and applying them to master page templates. Grids require multiple guidelines for use in aligning text blocks or graphic objects.
To overcome these design limitations you might consider using Adobe InDesign in landscape mode as a high-impact alternative to PowerPoint.
InDesign has superior export-to-PDF features, and is quite adept at exporting hyperlinks and internal navigation links as well. It has very strong stylesheet capabilities and master templates. Once you’ve set up these basics in InDesign, you can be confident that your design language will be applied consistently throughout your slidedoc.
No matter which tool you choose to create a slidedoc, adding slidedocs to your content strategy is a good practice for today’s content marketers. As Duarte argues, just make sure you design your slidedocs for the right audience and the right reasons!