Design principle loopholes?

About a month ago, I presented at the NC SOPHE Annual Meeting in Hickory, NC on engaging slideshow design. After my presentation, a couple of attendees approached me with questions on whether certain design elements were ever appropriate. Of course, all of the design elements I condone or condemn are for the purposes of doing the audience a favor. If we have a message we want to communicate, we should help our audience to easily receive, process, and remember that message. What if your point is not necessarily to deliver a message, though?

A while back, I showed a friend a clip of a Prezi presentation with the disclaimer that I would never want someone to use the platform because of the zooming user interface. What he did next was somewhat surprising. He began using Prezi to present to the bigwigs at his company. Anecdotally, he shared that he was making quite the impression. What if his point is not to deliver a message but to impress someone with something unlike what they have seen before? Would my recommendation be different then?

A couple of weeks ago, my husband sent me an article about a 13-year-old who created a slideshow presentation to convince his parents to buy a mature video game.

Grand Theft Auto V

Anyone who knows anything about slideshow design knows that the title slide alone is riddled with flaws and failures. The meat of his presentation even includes a fabricated statistic:


In his case, I would say his end goal is not for his audience to understand his message but to persuade them to action. Regardless of his slideshow design, his parents decided to purchase the requested video game for him.

It is possible that there are different goals for different presentations. Perhaps you want to display your passion. Perhaps you want to knock someone’s socks off. Maybe there are multiple goals. My personal goal will always be to deliver a memorable message. The good news is you can never go wrong by creating slideshow design that follows psychological principles of design.

One thought on “Design principle loopholes?

  1. I absolutely love this post. I think many times people lose sight of the message and focus on the “wow” factor. If you create a presentation that is easily understood and makes an impression on the audience, that is the “wow” factor in my opinion.

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