There are quite a few tools out there that are springing up all over the place to help you create designed presentations with very little effort. There seems to be universal acknowledgement that presentation software (like PowerPoint) can’t do it on its own (without a team of experts), and we need a better alternative. But is newcomer SlideMagic the answer?

What is SlideMagic?

SlideMagic

SlideMagic is a template-based presentation design tool. It’s the brainchild of Jan Schultink. Jan runs Idea Transplant, a presentation design company, but decided to build a tool to help people design their own presentations. He’s got some great knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in the realm of presentation creation, and he’s channelled all this expertise into an app that will have you creating slick presentations in no time.

It’s currently in beta form and Jan’s looking for people to test it. In the future, once all the niggles are sorted out, he will start charging for the service. So if you’re curious, take a look now.

What I like

Foolproof

SlideMagic is foolproof. With PowerPoint there’s always the chance that someone can choose the butterfly template and Comic Sans as their font of choice. SlideMagic doesn’t create your slides for you, but it gently suggests things such as fonts, colour schemes, and layouts so that even if all you do is replace what’s already there with your own content, you’ll still have a pretty slick presentation at the end of it.

Jan is also an advocate of the Death To Text on Slides movement. Like us, he believes you can’t read and listen at the same time, so his templates are bullet point free.

It’s obviously been created by someone who knows a thing or two about design and what looks good. The website is a thing of beauty and the slide templates are crisp and clean: there are no 90s gradients or clip art. By simply putting your content into the first template you come across you can create something that looks modern and professional.

What I’m not so keen on

Animation

I recently reviewed Google Slides and I mentioned their lack of animation and how it was much more restrictive with PowerPoint. Well compared to SlideMagic, Google Slides is the new Pixar: SlideMagic doesn’t support animation. I’m not sure that this will be a permanent fixture, but for now there are no animation capabilities. For us this is a limitation because we like to pace the flow of information with animation so we can show the audience just enough either visuals or text to keep them interested and informed. This will therefore slightly affect the amount on your slides and, if you pace it properly, will mean you have more slides that have one or two ideas on represented by big images. But looking at the example decks that Jan has thrown together, you can see that’s what he’s shooting for: oodles of white space, crisp lines, and caption bars. For us as professional presentation designers it’s not ideal, but for a presentation novice this is one way of training yourself to put less information on a slide, and because the template is so nice, whatever you create will look swish.

Inevitably this is still a bit glitchy, but I’m astounded at how well it works and how sophisticated it looks. Sign up by all means, and point out the bugs, for the near-future at least there will be quite a few of them. So for instance whatever I seem to try I can’t get the main title bar to work on any of the slides, and there seemed to be some inconsistencies with the images I could upload. They’re definitely things I don’t like, and things I’ll pass on as feedback, but not deal breakers.

Am I out of a job?

Job

Will BrightCarbon switch from PowerPoint to SlideMagic?

Not for now.

I think it’s a great app, but for someone who knows what they’re doing it’s pretty limiting. All of us here at BrightCarbon would know how to create the same layouts and templates and we can be trusted to have a choice of fonts and colours without resorting to Snap ITC in hot pink.

SlideMagic is the bicycle stabilisers of presentation creation: if you use the app you can’t go wrong. For companies who don’t have the resources to commission professionals to create beautiful dynamic presentations, get involved with SlideMagic. Admittedly it takes a bit of figuring out – it’s like learning any new piece of software.  But lots of businesses are still using calibri bullet points on a white background, or awful PowerPoint templates full of gradients and butterflies; SlideMagic will help to build slides to the same level of complexity (I’m guessing at least), but your presentations will look like they were made in 2015 and not 1995.

Will SlideMagic negate the need for presentation designers?

In short, no.

SlideMagic is absolutely brilliant for anyone wanting to try out presentation creation, but with no real design know-how and a fear of animation. These people might not want anything overly complex as an end-result, and that’s fine. There are, however, people who want a presentation that’s animated, includes bespoke elements, and perfectly fits brand guidelines. These people will always need presentation designers and will always need a sophisticated program to make that on.

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Written by

Hannah Harper

Managing consultant

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  1. Image of Jan Schultink Jan Schultink says:

    Thank you Hanna for writing this review. I think you got the positioning of SlideMagic exactly right: we are not aiming to put professional presentation designers out of a job, but rather want to improve the other 99% of presentations for which they are not hired.

    We are constantly ironing out issues, let me know whether the title bar one is still relevant, I cannot reproduce it on my machine.

    W.r.t. animations, this was a design decision. Animations do not show well on mobile. Non-designers use animations (and Prezi zooming) mainly for spectacular slide transitions that do not add to the effectiveness slide. I would encourage SlideMagic users to use duplicate slides and add small bits of additional content to create the impression of an animation.

    • Image of Hannah Brownlow Hannah Brownlow says:

      Hi Jan, it’s good to have a fellow presentation champion! We really like what you’re doing with SlideMagic – I’m glad we caught your vision. We’ll be following its progress closely!

  2. Image of Jan Schultink Jan Schultink says:

    As a PS, we now have eliminated the title editing issue in Firefox, thank you for pointing this out to us.

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