A Battle Between a New PowerPoint Alternative and Ye Olde Presentation Software
Time sure flies. It’s been 32 years since Microsoft acquired PowerPoint, and forever transformed presentations. Before the original Microsoft Office suite brought the innovative presentation software to what are now as many as a billion personal computers, presentations were time-consuming and expensive to create.
When it hit the late 80s software scene, PowerPoint revolutionized the presentation landscape. For the first time, anyone with access to a personal computer could create their own presentations. Since the ability to give a captivating presentation is a skill that 70 percent of American employees find crucial to success, consumers didn’t mind the hefty cost of the software – it ultimately was cheaper and simpler to use than previous methods of creating visual presentations.
PowerPoint was standard on most copies of Windows 95, which outsold its predecessor version by 1000 percent (!!!) But because the software became so widely adopted, many of its most popular features – over-the-top slide transitions, the pillars template and the same tiresome clip art we’ve all seen before – quickly became cliché. PowerPoint allowed people the ability to create their own visual presentations, but it didn’t teach them how to do it well.
By the time the 2000s rolled around — and the software was barely a decade old — consumers started to look for free powerpoint alternatives. People began to crave better design and a more unique appearance, and they wanted to do so for a smaller investment. In response to both this market demand and immense opportunity, presentation tools such as Apple’s Keynote (2003) and Google’s Slides (2007) entered the online realm.
Fast forward to 2018, when Beautiful.ai launched. Its mission? To solve all the oh-so-painful pain points of presentation creation that had yet to be solved: 1) The time required to create a presentation 2) The difficult learning curve to do it well and 3) The sometimes downright ugly output. Beautiful.ai was created as a solution for “death by PowerPoint” — uninspiring, unattractive visual stories that put audience members to sleep (or maybe even death).
Fast forward to 2018, when Beautiful.ai launched. Its mission? To solve all the oh-so-painful pain points of presentation creation that had yet to be solved: 1) The time required to create a presentation 2) The difficult learning curve to do it well and 3) The sometimes downright ugly output.
Despite the fact that PowerPoint presentations have been banned at a few top companies around the world — and that most PowerPoint users will admit that they’d really prefer an alternative option that’s much easier and more enjoyable to use — the numbers are impressive. Thirty years after launch, PowerPoint users still design as many as 30 million presentations each day, on more than a billion computers worldwide.
As for Beautiful.ai, in under a years time, it has steadily collected a cult-like following. The new ai-powered presentation software has become a particularly popular choice among visual presentation designers because of its smarts (artificial intelligence), simplicity (aka ease of use) and beauty (attractive yet unique templates). And unlike PowerPoint, or other powerpoint alternatives, the tool is free. Slowly but surely, this “secret weapon” — used by presentation creators in over 18 countries — is starting to catch on.
So, which presentation software to choose: Beautiful.ai or PowerPoint? It’s a decision that presenters of all skill levels must make for themselves. To assess, let’s rely on some good, old-fashioned comparative research, and consider the advantages and disadvantages of using Microsoft’s presentation software versus Beautiful’s free powerpoint alternative.
1. It’s Smart
Beautiful.ai’s library of more than 50 “smart templates” boasts a Timeline, Table, Line Graph, Org Chart, Word Cloud, and dozens more. The tool’s “smarts” refer to the design-a.i., which adapts each slide’s layout as you add content. Thus automating the majority of the work involved in creating presentations, and cutting production time by more than 50 percent. No other free powerpoint alternative can do that. Since time is money, using Beautiful.ai boosts productivity and profit.
2. It’s Simple
With Beautiful.ai, creating a presentation is no longer overwhelming. It’s easy: Start by choosing from eight design themes, or create your own. Then, add each new “smart template” at a time from the template library. Input your content, such as text, images from a free stock library, icons and logos.
See the “simply” done theme here? It’s true — and really that simple.
Instead of struggling with the placement of text boxes and images, Beautiful.ai’s interface can design and animate your slides for you — even suggesting ways you can visualize your ideas and updating your entire presentation automatically as you change color schemes or add logos or text styling.
Instead of struggling with the placement of text boxes and images, Beautiful.ai’s interface can design and animate your slides for you — even suggesting ways you can visualize your ideas.
3. It’s Beautiful
What’s in a name? Well, if your name is Beautiful, you’ve got a lot to live up to.
Beautiful.ai was founded to bring an end to ugly presentations. But if users are the ones adding content to each slide, just how does Beautiful.ai maintain its professional appearance?
The answer is through its proprietary heuristic engine that employs artificial intelligence to translate users’ ideas into stunning and engaging visuals, automatically applying the rules of good design in real-time.
With its design-ai (the tool’s “secret sauce”), the best practices in presentation design are built right into each smart template, maintaining the high design standards of a professional graphic designer. The result is a clean, concise and attractive presentation that will have people asking if you spent thousands of dollars on the design (did we mention it’s free?)
4. It’s in the Cloud
It’s no secret that cloud computing is increasingly preferred over physical methods of storing data and software — like hard disks and external drives. After all, cloud computing not only offers universal access, but also enhanced security, sync technology and cost savings.
Beautiful.ai lives completely in the cloud. No downloads, no storage suck, no file attachments. Just share the link to send your presentation with colleagues and access the internet to view, collaborate or present. Free PowerPoint versions offer far less features, and no design guidance whatsoever.
5. It’s Easy to Collaborate
In an increasingly collaborative workplace, it’s vital for a variety of team members to send, receive, edit and view a project at any point in its timeline.
Because it’s so easy to access and share visual presentations created with Beautiful.ai from the cloud, collaborating on projects is a breeze. To add a collaborator to a presentation, just choose the “Collaborate” icon and type in his or her email address. Set your presentation’s permissions to “can edit” or “can view” (much like sharing documents within the Google suite of tools) and they’ll receive an email notifying them to join the project.
There’s also a built-in Revision History feature, that lets you see who made what updates to each slide, at what time, a well as useful viewing and editing data.
With its built-in design best practices, large stock library of icons, graphics and photos, advanced animation settings and more, each Beautiful.ai presentation is guaranteed to have a professional appearance.
6. It’s Customized to your Brand
There’s plenty of reasons why Beautiful.ai is increasingly beloved by both amateur and professional presentation designers, and brand customization is high on that list. The cloud-based free powerpoint alternative provides options to customize your color palette and save those settings as a default, or for future use. You can also customize the typography with brand-specific fonts, spacing and other text styling. Company logos can be uploaded and placed automatically onto each slide, akin to a letterhead or watermark.
Branded presentations are a great way to set some guardrails on your company’s visual identity, so “Franken-decks” — or hacked-up corporate templates — are kept from creeping out into the public realm. Brand customization also helps promote a business or organization, and creates a cohesive appearance across any enterprise’s internal or external communications. What’s more, Beautiful.ai’s “smarts” apply any branding updates to the entire presentation, which saves users TONS of time they might otherwise have spent editing each individual slide one by one.
7. It’s Your Secret Weapon
With its build-in design best practices, large stock library of icons, graphics and photos, advanced animation settings and more, each Beautiful.ai presentation is guaranteed to have a professional appearance. Now, all your colleagues and business partners will think you’re either incredibly talented at presentation design, or you shelled out for a professional graphic designer. Either way...your secret’s safe with us!
8. It’s Free!!!
The best part is that Beautiful.ai is a free powerpoint alternative. There will be options to upgrade later on of course, but a freemium version will always be available. All current features are available at no additional cost, and when compared to other presentation software tools or powerpoint alternatives, it’s the only one that offers unlimited presentations using the entire suite of design tools and features. The entire library of smart templates, themes and stock images are free to every user as well.
Ok, now on to the "not so good" aspects of Beautiful.ai...
1. Layout Limitations
The good news? Beautiful.ai employs smart technology to ensure presenters of any skill level create polished and professional presentations based on the best practices of graphic design.
The so-so news? That same amazing “design-ai” sets limitations as to how much, where and what type of content you can add to each slide. Some users – especially those accustomed to PowerPoint – might not appreciate these limits. It could be frustrating for some to not have complete design freedom on each slide’s layout.
2. The Non-Editable Export
Presentations created on the Beautiful.ai cloud platform can be exported to PDF, JPEG and PowerPoint formats. But, once you export a Beautiful.ai presentation, you cannot make edits in that new file. Therefore, it’s not preferable to start a slideshow with Beautiful.ai if you don’t intend on finishing it there – or if you think you’ll need to make changes to slides after you export it.
3. The Lack of Integration
If you’re a big Google Slides user, you won’t be able to convert your Beautiful.ai presentation to an editable Google Slide with a simple click of a button. Still, it’s not impossible to get the job done.
You can export your presentation as a PowerPoint file and then import it to Google Slides, but that’s a 3-step process. Plus, as already mentioned, you won’t be able to edit it once there.
Ok, now it's time to turn our attention to our challenger...
1. It’s a Blank Slate
Since the PowerPoint presentation software is a 100-percent “self-authored” product, you can control your presentation and add whatever you want to each slide with little to no limitations. This “self-authoring” can be preferred by some presenters who have slightly better design skills than most, or those who are just used to doing things their own way.
2. It’s Widely Used
If you’re simply looking for one of the most-widely used and accepted presentation design tools that everyone on your team likely knows how to use already, PowerPoint fits the role. But, with the increasing popularity of Google Suite, PowerPoint may soon fall behind Slides in terms of enterprise usage.
3. It’s Not on the Cloud
A growing number of people now prefer the freedom of cloud-based tools like Beautiful.ai. While PowerPoint is a desktop application that you must download in order to use — which some people prefer who don’t trust the Web to autosave or secure their content from hackers. PowerPoint enthusiasts like that they can download their entire presentation file and save on, say, a hard drive.
What about the not-so-good stuff? Let's see...
1. The Cost
The price tag for PowerPoint can be as much as $439 when included as part of the Microsoft Office suite. Granted, the suite can also be purchased by subscription for around $10 a month (on a per-user basis), but that can add up greatly over the course of a year.
Users can try one version of PowerPoint free to start, but it's super basic and most popular features are reserved for the premium version of the software. Free PowerPoint presentations are unlikely to win over a lot of audiences.
2. The Time
Due to the manual nature of PowerPoint presentation software, a substantial amount of time is required when creating a presentation. Due to it’s “blank slate” nature, there’s no design or content assistance so presenters are starting completely from scratch in every way. Without the “head start” that smart templates provide, the prep work alone — getting organized before the first slide is even created — can be overwhelming.
And obviously the process doesn’t end there. Users must source all the visuals (photography, icons, logos) for their PowerPoint presentations and upload all content needed for each slide. Text boxes must be manually created and filled; content must be manually resized; and users must personally choose the best fonts, formats and templates for every single slide, individually.
By the time you repeat all the tasks above for each page, you’re looking at more than 10 hours spent creating a PowerPoint presentation for the average 30-page presentation.
3. The Level of Difficulty
The precise reason why PowerPoint remains a popular choice for professional presentation designers is the same reason most average users steer clear of it. The manual nature of the tool creates a higher level of difficulty for most. After all, most presenters aren’t also professional designers.
The "ugly presentation" risk is high when you use PowerPoint. Check out the latest SNL skit devoted to unprofessional, uninspiring and downright hideous presentations.
So, it can be extremely stressful to pretend to be one: placing images, text and graphics so the overall design is not only attractive and engaging, but also easy to read and understand. In short? Sure, it's easy to use, but it's actually very difficult for the average person to make a good looking presentation.
4. THE LACK OF PROFESSIONAL DESIGN
The "ugly presentation" risk is high when you use PowerPoint. Haven't seen the latest SNL skit devoted to unprofessional, uninspiring and downright hideous presentations?Enjoy. Now you see what we mean? That "blank slate" authoring can be bad news for people that don't understand design best practices. And don't feel bad — most people aren't trained graphic designers. So this is one situation where a "Pro" of PowerPoint can quickly turn into its worst "Con."
So, which presentation software should you choose… Beautiful.ai or PowerPoint? Obviously, both have their share of pros and cons. If you require total control of your presentation’s layout, or you consider yourself a seasoned presentation designer, PowerPoint can be a great fit.
But, if you need a “jump start” (help placing all your content and data into a cohesive and attractive layout); or you’re not too confident of your knowledge of graphic design best practices; or you’re simply looking for a free PowerPoint alternative; Beautiful.ai’s smart templates might be your gateway to a whole new world of inspiring, engaging visual storytelling that is sure to impress your audience.
Our advice? Try both, and there may be a clear winner (wink!)