25 October 2013

3 Design Lessons from iOS 7

I have recently came across an article by Carrie Cousins in which she shares some tips on how to design an app for the new Apple iOS. You can find the complete article here. While reading it, I thought that many of her tips can also be applied to the design of slides.
In this post I will go through three of Carrie’s tips on designing for iOS to show you how you can improve your next presentation.  

(1) Think Flatter

Carrie says “Apple’s iOS 7 is designed with flat in mind [...] Gone are all of the once-trademark skeuomorphic style icons and effects. In are single-colour boxes, lots of coloured type and lots of space [...] The design guidelines from Apple for iOS 7 encourage simplicity in design and usability.”
Apple’s design encourages simplicity, so should yours. Some time ago I shared with you three tips on how to make your presentation more effective (3 Tips on How to Prepare a Presentation). One of those tips was Keep it Simple. In order to keep a presentation simple you need to carefully think about what to include and what to leave out. Ask yourself what the essence of the message you want to convey is.

Apple do not only make their products simple, they also apply simplicity when crafting their presentations. Here are two slides Apple used during their recent introduction of the iPad Air. Look at how simple and easy to understand they are.    

Here Phil Schiller - senior vice president of marketing at Apple - explains that the bezel around the display is 43% thinner. Instead of cluttering the slide, he only shows the previous iPad, the new one and the number 43%.
Then he says that the iPad Air weighs only 1 pound. Again, there is no need to clutter the slide with anything else.

(2) Focus on Type

Carrie’s article reads “Type is the key to the iOS 7 design [...] Hierarchy in text is vital. Take advantage of colour and different weights to make the flow of type and user interface elements clear and easy to follow.”
The typeface you use in your presentation and how you use it is as important as it is for the iOS 7 design. I will share more details on that in a later post, so stay tuned. For now bear in mind a few concepts:
  • Type has both an aesthetic quality and a function
  • The choice and usage of type is one of the elements which differentiates professional presentations from average ones
  • Shape, size and colour of type all affect the meaning of the words you write and the feelings of the audience  
The presentation below is a perfect example of typeface used wisely. First of all, the font itself is professional. Second, colour is sometimes used to highlight the core point. For example, in the first slide the core point is the verb "engage", that is why it is of a different colour. Finally, the same typeface and the same colours are used throughout the entire presentation, giving a sense of unity. The aim is to make the whole greater than the sum of the individual slides.

Slides by Empowered Presentations

(3) Go Borderless

“[In iOS 7] much of the design interface is borderless [...] Look at the calendarno gridlines in the dates [...] Look at the clock or built-in weather appgridlines are also gone [...] What has replaced those gridlines is space.” As I have already written in a previous post (Less is More: The Power of White Space), “white” or “negative” space is a fundamental principle of good design. It improves visual clarity which, in turn, helps the audience focus on what is important. It is the negative space which lets the positive elements of a design stand out.

Here is a slide I used in a presentation last year. The Leaf Meter is a product made by an Italian company: Loccioni Group. It visualises in real time the data relative to the energy performance and the environmental impact of buildings. I could have cluttered the slide with text, numbers and statistics. However, to make sure the audience would follow me, I only showed a real photo of the product with its name leaving plenty of negative space. Then it was up to me to talk about it in detail.

If in your next presentation you will think flatter, focus on type and go borderless, you will go one step forward with your presentation skills.