Slidevana Offers Powerpoint Templates Designed For Impact

Slidevana caters to professionals who aren’t attuned to visual communication.

PowerPoint can be incredibly convincing when done well, but sitting through the much-maligned scourge of presentations is, all too often, mind-meltingly, sleep-inducingly, soul-crushingly, dull—not to mention completely ineffective. What makes this basic medium so difficult to master? Ravi Mehta, CEO of recently launched Slidevana, believes it’s a matter of understanding the format. "Unless you’re a graphic designer, you’re generally used to thinking in words and prose. PowerPoint is a type of visual communication; a lot of people go into it without shifting their perspective, which is why they can end with something that looks more like a teleprompter," he tells Co.Design. His company aims to take the guesswork out of creating slides with a set of 150 templates—"a complete toolbox"—that will, in theory, help direct users to a more compelling means of getting their message across.

Mehta designed all the slides himself, but he is not a designer.* Instead, his experience comes from years in the tech industry, both giving and observing presentations in all their glory (or infamy). As for the design of the slides themselves? Well, they look pretty standard-issue. The key for Mehta is ease of use. "We present prefab slides so people can dive right in and start working on telling their story," he says, stories that will either appeal to emotions, with image- or quote-based slides, or reason, with data-centric diagrams. In a conscious choice to cut down on unnecessary clutter, only two themes are offered: Dark, which suits dramatic keynote addresses in large, dimmed rooms, and Light, a better choice for more intimate roundtable talks or printed presos. Inserting your own content is done with an easy drag-and-drop, and it’s possible to customize throughout a deck.

One-time customers are able to access any new additions to the collection, and the service is offered for PowerPoint for both Windows and Mac, as well as Keynote. It would have been interesting to see what Mehta would have created in collaboration with a design professional to refine the format, because there’s certainly ample room for these PowerPoint presentations to improve their aesthetic appeal. And ultimately, to achieve the kind of professional transcendence implied in Slidevana’s company name, you’ll have to really distill your mission statement. "The most important part of the presentation is the moral," Mehta says, and no pie chart in the world will help you fabricate that.

*Our advice: Hire a designer. Quickly. Because these things need a ton of work.—Ed.

[Image: Jiri/Shutterstock]

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  • Slidevana

    Monirom, you raise a good point. These are templates, not final products.

    The information density on the slides is another area where I've focused on utility. There is nothing more frustrating than a template which doesn't allow enough room for text. The author then needs to adjust the layout to get elements to not overlap, negating any benefit of the template.

    Each Slidevana slide has ample room for text, more than is necessary for most applications. The alignments are properly set, so its easy to enter less text without having to modify the layout.

    As you say, templates are an instrument, not the music.

  • monirom

    Cliff is correct on so many points.

    One thing that struck me as obvious - if you've taken a close look at the Slidevana templates - is it encourages the presenter to commit the ultimate sin when it comes to creating presentations. Cramming too much information on a single slide and using every inch of available space on said slide. None of the templates allow for a breathable margin. All content is placed right to the edge.

    And really, that's the problem with templates. You can never predict how anyone will use the templates. It's like expecting the same result to come from your own hands as Yoyo Ma"s because you're both playing the same type of instrument.

  • Slidevana

    Design is not only about aesthetics. It's about making good choices and focusing on utility for the end user. So if you don't think that Steve Jobs is one of the greatest designers of this generation, your definition of "design" is so myopic, there's nothing else I can say.

  • Slidevana

     Jordan, thanks so much for the coverage of Slidevana!

    Specifically to the Editor's point about hiring a designer, I think you're missing the point. As someone that does a lot of presentations, for board meetings, VC pitches, conferences, and sales calls, I don't have the time or money to hire a designer for every deck. The goal of the slides is to be clean, simple, and focused on the information. I certainly could have overdesigned the slides by hiring a designer, but then Slidevana users would have to hire a designer if they ever wanted to create new layouts that match the look and feel.

    As a side note, the presentation that Apple includes with Keynote on iOS is very similar to Slidevana Light in terms of font choices, sizes, and color values. Maybe they need to hire a designer too?

  • Christopher Gray

     Take the criticism in stride.  This is a design site.  A business site might see it differently.

  • Cliff Kuang

    Actually, I think you're missing the point. Your business model certainly allows you to hire a skilled designer---this is exactly what you're in a position to do, and what people who make all their slides cannot. But instead, you're assuming that your own experience obviates the need for anyone else's.

    Here, you seem to be asserting that a designer couldn't do it better than you--as if design were somehow antithetical to creating something "clean, simple, and focused on the information." Right now, I hate to say, the slides simply look amateur. (I wonder if you've seen what a slideshow presented by someone at Pentagram looks like? I highly doubt you could be clearer in terms of simplicity and information.) So while your idea is good, the execution isn't there. As for your comment about font choices, sizes, and color values---if you think that's the only things a designer would provide you, you've begun to identify the problem right there. Two people can take the same font, and create a presentation using only that. One person's can be lightyears better than the other. The choices don't end there. That's the subtlety and complexity of what real designers grapple with everyday.

    Steve Jobs had great ideas. But he knew he wasn't a designer. So he hired another person to execute them.