A page from Slide:ology

UX & Presenting Your Ideas: A Review of Slide:ology

Author: Nancy Duarte

Sorry for the delay in putting out another review. What can we say? Us UX girls really know how to celebrate the holidays.

One of my best friends in UX has a background as a graphic designer. We’ve been reading UX books together for the last few years and every time we talk about what book we should read next he suggests this one. I’ve put it off for so long it is a bit of a joke. After all, what does making a presentation have to do with complex interface research and design? But, in an homage to him, I read it. I can now completely understand why he suggested this book for years and so will you if you give it a read.

What does a book about designing slides have to do with UX? Actually, it turns out quite a lot. UX, when you boil it down to its essence, is about trying to convey something very complex in the most understandable format. You can’t get very far in this business without the ability to convince others that what you are doing with worth the effort. A big part of is about presenting ideas and concepts in a manner to a whole slew of stakeholders and getting them understand what you have created. From reading this book I learned that bridging the gulf of understanding is critical not only in UX but also to slide design. So much so that you could pretty much take the word “slide” and replace it with the word “wireframe” and read Slide:ology like any other UX book on your self.

Here are some examples of the most interesting points from the book:

  • Did you know that creating content for your slides, much like a website, is the most difficult part of any presentation?
  • Without careful curation people will put much more on slides than necessary — just like a cluttered interface.
  • There are multiple stakeholders that go into creating a successful presentation. Got it, but what is interesting is that there are also multiple types of people that can receive a presentation! So much so that Duarte encourages the development of presentation personas.
  • There are basic design patterns to convey ideas — ones that would be useful for icon and logo developers. (See picture below. There are multiple pages of these in the book.) I’ve already referred to these in a new product I’m prototyping this week.

Ultimately, while this book had numerous parallels to creating and presenting design ideas and research, what I got most out of the book is that I really needed a lesson in creating better slides. Gathering best practices on how to curate, distill, and present your ideas is just plain hard. This book gave me guidance that I’d been looking for in how to structure my slide decks so that I’m more successful in presenting my UX ideas.

Also, the book has multiple strong points. First, it is really funny. It has a tart tone that conveys intelligence and competence. Second, the books has many examples and the website has downloadable materials. These materials are a gold mine. Last, there are spotlights on people who have done great presentations which you can look up and watch.

This book is much more than a book about slides. It is useful tool for anyone who has to make and present slides. But, it is a gem for anyone in UX.

UX Bookclub Questions

  1. How do you present your ideas? Does the amount of people you are presenting to impact your method?
  2. What is the worst presentation you’ve ever seen? Why? What would you do differently to improve it?