Google Slides as a Design Tool

By | April 5, 2018

As I’ve written before, I believe Storyboards are the best way to communicate early designs, while Prototypes are better suited to later stage usability tests. A graphic spec is a different thing. This week I was using Google Slides to see if I could replicate my technique from Microsoft PowerPoint.

I am sad to say that it failed to achieve the goal. However, it’s not a hopeless case. Here are the missing ingredients.

Missing Animation
Google Slides has some very basic animation. You can take an object and make it have entrance and exit effects.

It’s a pretty limited list, but it is missing a few key ingredients. The first is the ability to Move an object on a line. This is crucial to move a hand or mouse to explain what the user is doing.

The second animation I use almost every time is Wipe. This allows a menu to animate into position that mimics a real world app.

The third is Appear by letter. This allows me to make text look like it’s being typed out.

Thee three animation options are crucial to making the storyboard come to life.

Usability
Included in Google Slides is the ability to make a drop shadow and a color gradient on an object, but the usability of how those features work was poor. You couldn’t type in specific shadow measurements. You had to drag sliders very carefully to get them exactly how you want. Microsoft doesn’t have Figma or Photoshop ease of use, but it is much better. If I were advising Google, I would suggest using the Sketch/Photoshop patterns for that styling ability.

Some Good News
I love the ability of Google Slides to use any Google Font. Online PowerPoint lacks this feature. Also, the crop to shape feature was useful.

Ultimately, the bad outweighed the good on this effort. It was certainly worth the try. There are lots of design tools coming out all of the time. I always enjoy trying them out. Some on my radar are Phase and also Invision Studio.

One More Thing
The selection model on Google Slides was really frustrating. PowerPoint has the model where you have to surround the object to select it. Google only requires intersection. This made it much harder to select objects that were underneath.

OK, Last one for realz
It’s hard to size things for the same reason as the above usability. It’s hard to zoom in and out. It’s just more difficult all around.

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