How to How to Use PowerPoint Designer

Published on
March 29, 2021
Since its beginnings in 1987, PowerPoint has evolved to become a powerful design and presentation tool that is used worldwide.

We have watched PowerPoint go from simple text and clipart to the powerful application it is today, with the capability to create modern and innovative presentation designs. In 2015, Microsoft launched PowerPoint Designer to further elevate the potential for every-day users to create professional presentation designs.

The tool aims to guide users through creating their PowerPoint deck by providing automated recommendations for how to elevate their slide designs. It automatically generates professionally designed slide suggestions, which appear in a pane on the right side of the screen, that you can integrate directly into your presentation without having to design them yourself. This gives the average PowerPoint user access to professionally designed slides without having to do the heavy lifting themselves.

How does it work?

As you input content onto a slide, PowerPoint Designer, also known as Design Ideas, works in the background to match your content to professionally designed layouts. Suggestions will appear in a pane on the right side of the screen that you can scroll through and choose from. If, for instance, you create a slide and type “Food” as the heading, Designer will gather appropriate designs to fit that theme, while keeping its suggestions consistent throughout the rest of the presentation.

PowerPoint Designer will also provide you with formatting and design ideas for graphs and photos. When Designer is enabled, the suggestions will appear on the right side of your window, next to your slide so that you can choose from the most appropriate option for your presentation. One thing to keep in mind is that Designer doesn’t work with custom themes, so if you want to take advantage of the tool, you will be limited to options that work with the designated PowerPoint themes.

How to enable PowerPoint Designer

If you are having trouble locating PowerPoint Designer, follow the steps below to make sure it is enabled.

Windows

  • Click File from the top left corner of your taskbar.
  • At the bottom of the list on the left, choose Options.
  • Under the General tab, scroll down until you find the PowerPoint Designer heading.
  • From here, select the options you would like to enable for PowerPoint Designer. (If you only want PowerPoint to show you design ideas when you click the Designer button, select the checkbox for Automatically show me design ideas. If you want PowerPoint to automatically show you suggestions every time you open a new blank document, select the checkbox for Automatically show me suggestions when I create a new presentation.)
  • Uncheck these boxes to disable Designer.

Mac

  • Start Designer by selecting Design from the ribbon at the top of your screen.
  • On the far right, select the Design Ideas button.
  • If it is your first time using Designer it will open a permissions window. Select Turn on or Let’s go. Otherwise, you will be able to start using designer right away.
  • To disable Designer, go to Design and deselect Design Ideas.

Benefits of using PowerPoint Designer

PowerPoint Designer saves time

For an experienced presentation designer, creating a PowerPoint presentation can take up to several hours. For those with less design experience it could be days before you come up with something you are happy with. Using PowerPoint Designer will save you the time it takes trying to decide on an appropriate layout and will help you maintain a level of cohesion within your presentation. Instead of clicking through trying to understand how to get that icon you want placed and sized just right, you can choose a pre-designed slide that has icons included, and all you need to do is input your data.

Man looking at paper layouts.

Professional PowerPoint layouts

When you open PowerPoint with a blank document and PowerPoint Designer enabled, all you need to do for it to start working is fill in your content. As you add in your information, Designer recommends high quality photos that reflect your text, and has them placed inside of a professionally designed layout. You can choose from the many designs PowerPoint suggests, and the application will continue to make suggestions for the following slides that fit visually into the rest of your presentation.

One of the most sophisticated additions to this tool is its ability to visualize your data so that your slides are no longer crowded with text but display your data in a way that is visually appealing. PowerPoint Designer pulls images from the Microsoft 365 icons library and incorporates them into your slides by detecting key terms and concepts in your content.

Designer can analyze your data and turn text into lists, processes, or timelines to make an easily readable graphic. If you already have these items created, it will work with those elements and create a layout that accommodates those assets.

Many of the designs that PowerPoint suggests already include icons as additional design elements, so you won’t have to scour the internet looking for the perfect image to include—it’s already there! All you need to do is enter your data and select the layout you like best.

Girl smiling.

Photograph enhancement

Another way Designer helps elevate the layout of your slides is by using facial recognition with photographs. It identifies faces in an image and optimizes the position of the photo so that their faces become a focal point. This is important for the visual hierarchy of your layout as faces tend to grab people’s attention and add an extra human element to data-heavy presentations.

Designer also lifts the most visually impactful color option from your inserted picture and then applies it to your existing slide. This color extraction is based on functional design principles, such as placing light colors on top of dark backgrounds for optimal visibility.

Key takeaways

PowerPoint Designer is a great tool if you are new to PowerPoint design, need to save some time, or if you are looking for some layout inspiration. Designer has plenty of helpful ideas for you to pull from, however, the best option if you need help refining your presentation, is to hire a PowerPoint design agency. We can ensure all your slides are branded appropriately and follow a consistent visual standard. A PowerPoint design company will have the human touch that you simply cannot get with the PowerPoint Designer software. Working with people who can make corrections and edit images to fit your branded content will elevate your presentation to a quality that goes beyond even the most sophisticated Designer suggestions.

Still looking for professional PowerPoint design?

Frequently Asked Questions

Working with Stinson: The Presentation Agency

What exactly do presentation agencies do?

We provide all the help you may need to design presentations that achieve your goals. This can include content consulting, presentation slide design, custom icons and illustrations, and presentation handouts—ultimately, our team of PowerPoint designers and consultants develop a comprehensive presentation solution that meets your specific needs.

Why do companies work with presentation agencies?

Consider how much time you (or your team) spend making PowerPoint presentations for meetings. Think about the back and forth over which fonts, colors, icons, and images to use. Is it okay to use bullet points? Did you use the right brand colors? Does the slide look too crowded and busy? Or does it look too plain? How do you create the look and feel that you're picturing? After the design is done, do you have enough time to practice presenting?

As presentation experts, it is our second nature to understand your goals and work with you to create the professional PowerPoint deck that you envisioned. You can learn more about our 3-phase process here.

By leaving the presentation design to an agency like Stinson, you save yourself the time and worry over the look, feel, and progression of your presentation—we make your PowerPoint presentation-ready so that you can focus on the presentation delivery.

Which presentation design service will I need?

As a presentation company, we offer every service you may need to develop your you may need to develop your PowerPoint—however, it's tough to say exactly which services of ours would benefit you the most without having chatted about your company, industry, and presentation uses.

We've generalized the scenarios that we regularly see and help our clients with. If your situation is similar to any of the below, then rest assured that our presentation experts have proven success in developing solutions.

  • You have an upcoming presentation with investors or clients. You feel your slide deck looks outdated or dull, and you don't know how to help it. You're also not sure if the content in your presentation conveys your value. View our case study where our presentation development and content consulting services helped our client achieve their investor funding goals.
  • Your company has regular internal department presentations. Everyone works on their respective slides, which are then combined into one presentation deck. The resulting PowerPoint does not have a cohesive look and somehow, there are five new shades of your corporate colors. We can help you identify your common slide layouts and design easy-to-use custom PowerPoint templates so your team members can create seamless, unified slides.
  • Your company has a great PowerPoint template that strongly reflects your branding, but your team tends to include too much text and irrelevant images on their slides. During the presentation, key messages are lost. We offer presentation training for exactly this—we'll train your team to create better slides more efficiently.

Expectations when working with us

How does partnering with a PowerPoint designer work?

Once you contact us, we'll meet with you and ask for as much context as possible regarding the project: what materials you already have, who is presenting, who is the audience, and so on—this is our Discover phase. From there, we move onto Develop and Design where we start defining the narrative and visual characteristics of your new presentation. For more details, please read our process.

How long do projects take?

Our standard turnaround for presentation development is 2–4 weeks; for custom presentation templates, our typical turnaround is 3–6 weeks. We know this is a wide range, but due to the collaborative nature of our presentation design process (i.e. asking for and incorporating your feedback), our turnaround time also relies on your responsiveness and availability. We do offer a rush service if your timelines are short.

How much does a presentation design cost?

We price on a project-by-project basis, involving a number of key factors outlined in our pricing model. However, we do require a minimum project cost of $1,500.

We often see companies that do not have budget allocations for presentation design and are hesitant to make the initial investment. We understand—at first, it can be difficult to see the value and difference a well-designed, practical presentation can make. For our clients that started in this situation, we worked on a smaller pilot test project; when they saw the positive ROI of the presentation, they were able to secure larger budgets and found more presentations that needed our help.

What are the final files that I will receive?

All of our final PowerPoint (or other presentation software) deliverables are shared with you in its native, editable file format. We are also able to provide a PDF or video version of your presentation if you would like.

Any presentation collateral we design for your project is shared as a ready-to-print PDF, unless if you specify a different preference.

Have you worked with other clients in my industry? Can you share related samples?

Our list of clients spans a wide range of industries, some of which we hadn't known of prior to the client's project. Since our approach involves familiarizing ourselves with the client's business and industry, we've become a team of jacks-of-all-trades for industry knowledge.

We're able to share blinded, industry-specific samples of presentations that our clients have consented to. Contact us if you're interested!

Technology

Aside from PowerPoint, do you work in Google Slides? Keynote? Prezi?

Yes! While we prefer designing PowerPoint presentations due to its robust features that let us create advanced designs, we've created custom presentation designs in Google Slides and Keynote at our clients' request.

We generally do not design presentations in Prezi since it does not support the level of design customization that we need for our clients. Instead, we use PowerPoint to create the same animations and layouts that are characteristic of Prezi presentations—you can view examples in our portfolio.

Will we run into issues if we use Mac and/or Windows PC?

There are some differences in functionality between PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for Windows—but these are not for your concern! We use both Mac and Windows computers at Stinson, so we're able to ensure cross-device compatibility with every PowerPoint presentation we design. During our initial call with you, we'll ask you for these tech specs so that we know to bear them in mind when working on your project.

Does it matter which version of PowerPoint we use?

Yes; the latest versions of PowerPoint have new functions and features that earlier versions of PowerPoint cannot load. We'll take note of your tech setup to ensure that our presentations for you run as intended.

Designing with branding

How are you able to design with our company's brand?

If you have any brand guidelines, we ask you to provide them early on in the process so that we can familiarize ourselves not only with your logos, colors, and fonts, but the overarching brand tone. Our collaborative process includes rounds of revision for you to provide your feedback on the presentation design.

Are you able to design within our very strict corporate brand guidelines?

Absolutely! Many of our clients are companies with well-established brand identities. We do our due diligence to maintain the integrity of their branding when designing their presentations and collateral.

Strict brand guidelines do not necessarily restrict the possibility of creating a sophisticated PowerPoint; our presentation designers thoughtfully use photos, animations, and other visuals to build the story.

We don't have concrete branding yet or we're in the process of updating our brand. Can you work without defined brand elements?

Yes! When we work with clients who are still ironing out the details of their branding, we ask them to provide us any materials they have already and to share their design inspirations. From there, we lay out moodboards of different tones and styles to see which resonates the most with what our client has in mind.

Security

We have highly sensitive information. Will my data remain confidential?

Absolutely—we respect the proprietary nature of businesses, and enforce a strict confidentiality policy company-wide. From the first point of contact with you, we assume a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); we are happy to sign your company's NDA as well.

Where do you store my files and data?

All of our files are stored securely in an industry-leading content server. The server exceeds regulatory standards and encrypts each file using AES 256-bit encryption in diverse locations.

Additionally, the Stinson team works completely in-house, so your files will not cross borders.

How secure is my data?

We take data security seriously. We enforce numerous internal policies and procedures to ensure that Stinson continues to meet compliance and security standards for data protection, including multi-factor authentication for all company accounts and access restrictions.

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