PowerPoint Makeover 01: Don’t Use Icons and Pictures Together

Created: Friday, November 24, 2017, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 9:30 am

Many rights end up with one big wrong! And that's so true with some PowerPoint slides, as you will understand better in this makeover.


Being a PowerPoint designer and presentation attendee at the same time can be a difficult task, especially when you come across so many bad slides, and you know that these slides could have been so much better! But this approach of looking at someone else’s slides with the eye of a designer is an evolving process. Why? Because what is acceptable today may not work tomorrow. Also, many “rights” end up creating one big “wrong,” as you can see in the slide below!

Makeover 01 - Many Rights Makes a Wrong
Figure 1: Many rights make a wrong

So what’s wrong with this slide? Here is a small list:

  1. First and foremost, this slide uses both icons and pictures to represent the same concept.
    The result is that both the picture and the icon are diluted, and we end up with visual chaos.
  2. Secondly, the title of these concepts overlaps smiles in the pictures. To overlap an emotive part of a picture is not acceptable.
  3. The text adds to the chaos by being placed in the wrong area of the concept boxes.
  4. Do you see that the top and bottom areas of the concept boxes have a dark gradient box overlapped? This is a great idea, but it does not work for this example! But we can use a variation of this technique to make a difference!

So how can we overcome these challenges? Here are are some thoughts.

1. Remove Dark Gradient Boxes

First, we removed the dark gradient box overlaps to end up with the slide you can see in Figure 2, below. This brings out the color of the concept boxes although it does reduce text readability, and we will take care of the readability aspect soon.

Makeover 01 - Remove Dark Gradient Boxes
Figure 2: Remove dark gradient boxes

2. Delete Icons

We then got rid of the icons, as shown in Figure 3, below. Icons are typically used to create a visual language, and since this slide already possesses a strong visual language, the icons add no extra value. In fact, they end up diminishing the visual language of the slide. Thus, they need to go!

Makeover 01 - Delete Icons
Figure 3: Delete icons

3. Relocate Titles

Next, we relocated the titles so that they don’t cover the smiling faces within the pictures, as shown in Figure 4, below. Do note that these are no longer center aligned. The default left-align option seems to work better and adds some white space to the picture area.

Makeover 01 - Relocate Titles
Figure 4: Relocate titles

4. Re-align Text

Now the remaining text within the concept boxes is essentially placed in a separate text box overlapping the picture. We now aligned this text to the bottom of the pictures, so that more area within the pictures is “uncovered,” as you can see in Figure 5, below. We also reduced the text size slightly. You will notice that the text readability has suffered again, and we will tackle this issue in our next step.

Makeover 01 - Re-align Text
Figure 5: Re-align text

5. Add Dark Gradient Fills

Finally, we added a dark gradient fill to text boxes, as shown in Figure 6, below. This is different from the gradient boxes we deleted earlier in three ways:

  1. The gradient fills were added to existing text boxes.
  2. These gradient fills use two colors — one dark color that is set to 0% transparency, and another color that is set to 100% transparency.
  3. The dark colors match the original color values of the concept box. Thus a light green concept box uses dark green, light blue uses dark blue, and orange uses a darker brownish orange. This brings out the color, whereas black or grey gradients kill the color.

Makeover 01 - Add Dark Gradient Fills
Figure 6: Add dark gradient fills

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