PowerPoint 2010 – Usability
PowerPoint 2010 contains many new features and upgrades. A lot of these have been inserted to display advancements in technology – they look impressive, they’re more high-tech, and when used correctly, they can produce impressive-looking presentations. Our favourites of these new features were discussed in our PowerPoint 2010 Review.
The second part of our PowerPoint 2010 review centres around the improvements made in usability. There are two reasons for these improvements to be made: to reduce the stress involved in trying to perfect a presentation by making the process easier; and to save time, by reducing the number of clicks needed to perform a function, or removing the need for plug-ins or other programs.
Our testers noted three distinct areas of improvement in PowerPoint 2010. Here we explain these, and detail examples of each.
One of the most noticeable things about the move from earlier versions of PowerPoint to 2010 is the shift to more intuitive menus. There has been a real effort to make things simpler and quicker for users, and this has been shown in certain functions in particular. The animation menu is significantly different, with large icons depicting each animation, and a preview of each shown by simply hovering over each option. Motion paths in particular are easier to use from this menu.
The print preview menu displays all options on screen at once, so that it is not necessary to navigate through different folders and tabs. Similarly, users are given different paste options from an automatic menu, creating a much easier option for the user.
More Editing Options
Another great improvement seen in many features of PowerPoint is the inclusion of more editing options. Pie charts are a good example of this; another is gradient fill. 2010 boasts a huge range of preset colour schemes (including everything from Rainbow to Chrome), rather than only offering the choice of two colours.
The introduction of gradient stops is fantastic. These can be added or removed separately, so that the user can include up to 10 different colours or other attributes at his own discretion. This gives a much greater control over any gradient, as colour, transparency and brightness can be changed for each individual gradient stop. The position of each can be adjusted according to percentage, or by dragging across the bar. In short, the user has a much greater control over gradient, and it is possible to get very exact effects.
Far less editing is needed to format pictures correctly after inserting them, and it is now easier and quicker to edit live graphs. The WordArt editing menu in particular is greatly improved. Inserting a WordArt automatically opens up the ‘Drawing Tools’ tab, meaning that it is now much easier to edit these in PowerPoint – a function that in 03 required a plug-in.
The new background removal tool is fantastic when used correctly, and can save a lot of time. Simply insert a picture and the Remove Background icon will appear on the far left of the Picture Tools tab. This feature will automatically remove what it perceives to be the background, and the user can then edit these changes using a few simple buttons, with the background adjusting intelligently.
The best new time saving feature in our opinion is the movie trimming capabilities. A lot of presenters now like to incorporate video in their presentations, and in the past we’ve found ourselves having to resort to using flash to achieve the required effect. With these changes, that is no longer necessary.
Another improvement is that you can now insert a screenshot with only two clicks from the main screen. The process is easy, and eliminates the need to mess around with windows; the user can choose the window he wishes to use from an icon in the drop-down menu.
Some of our testers reported having trouble with editing shapes they had made. It was reported that it was difficult to find the tools to edit the shape once it was created. The most notable problem became obvious when our testers attempted to fill a shape with a picture: the images distorted to fit the shape making the user either manually resize using the options within the picture format options, or resize using the crop tool, then resaving. This problem was also reported for 2007.
The only real issues our testers found where related to the change in menus. The difference from 07 to 2010 is not too significant, but those who resisted the transition from 03 (as many did, owing to several reported bugs in 07) may struggle to make the transition from toolbars to tabs. That said, the menu change has been made with the user in mind, and once users have adjusted to the new system, it seems likely that they would in fact find it simpler.
PowerPoint 2010 has been designed with the user in mind. Most (if not all) improvements, when used correctly, save time and effort when designing a slide. While it is easy to get distracted by some of the showy new features, using the subtler, more technical, functions to create a more professional presentation should require less clicks. Perhaps most importantly some improvements, particularly in video editing, negate the need to use plug-ins or other software, thus saving the user a lot of time.
In all, PowerPoint 2010 shows a lot of promise, and should make creating effective presentations easier for amateurs and professionals alike.
The video below is an example from the PowerPoint team, showing how easily videos can be produced (and put on YouTube) using PowerPoint 2010. This software can do some very impressive things…
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Adrianne Carter, General Manager, SBXL
Our presentation now feels much more powerful, and more likely to be remembered. The message hasn’t changed in itself, but it is now much more precise. The way our points are visualised ensures that we are not tempted to waffle, or to read off the screen.