You don't have to download an office suite to build great-looking presentations. There are plenty of online options that work well from any computer with a web browser, whether it's your desktop PC at work, or a laptop on the go. This week we're looking at five of the best.
Title photo by Imagine Cup
There are plenty of good reasons to consider an online presentation app. The best ones are either free or low-cost, they store all of your data online for you to access when you need it, and you don't have to carry around files or your own computer to give a presentation.
Haiku Deck was founded on the premise that simple, modern and elegant slide decks should be the norm, instead of overly dense, difficult to read designs. The service makes creating those presentations easy, thanks to its webapp (and iPad app). Slides made using Haiku Deck focus on imagery and graphics, with a few words per slide. You can see more than a few examples in Haiku Deck's featured presentation gallery, which gives you a quick feel for how your presentation might look if you used the service.
Haiku Deck is completely free, and your account gives you access to over 35 million images and six presentation themes to choose from (additional premium themes and images are available to purchase). You're free to upload and use your own images as well, or import them from sites including Instagram, Flickr, Dropbox or Google+ Photos. The service also has chart and graph building tools built-in you can use to display data.
Prezi isn't just a great online presentation tool, it's one of your favourite PowerPoint alternatives overall. The service made waves when it launched because it gave users the ability to create dynamic, fluid, non-linear presentations with great animations and motion effects that lend an energy to a presentation. With its popularity also came some overuse of those features, giving rise to some equally awful presentations that zoom and swoosh all over the screen, laying on motion effects to a dizzying degree. Even so, it's a highly popular tool that's all-online and free to use for anyone who wants to sign up.
Prezi allows you to visually show how ideas relate to one another instead of just putting one idea after another. It's best used for non-linear presentations, where you may need to go back to old topics, show how multiple topics are connected, and show how details relate to a greater picture. Prezi also allows you to make heavy use of images, multimedia, graphs and charts. If you're working on a presentation with others, you can have everyone collaborate on its design. Prezi is free, but all of your presentations will be visible to the public. If you need to use it for work, want storage for files, need privacy, want to edit offline or want more features, there are premium plans, including discounts for students and teachers.
While other online presentation tools take a more dynamic approach and try to depart from the PowerPoint-esque style of presentations, Google Sides embraces it — and that's not a bad thing. If you're already familiar with tools like PowerPoint, and want something familiar but simple and easy to use, Google Slides is the tool for you — it was another of your favourite PowerPoint alternatives. It incorporates a professional look and feel along with some interesting and dynamic transitions.
Like other Google Drive applications, Slides allows you to collaborate in real time with other users, and everything is stored online in Google Drive. Slides also makes embedding your own images, charts, graphs and videos relatively easy. If you're coming from a PowerPoint world, Slides can open, save and convert PowerPoint files. Offline editing is part of the package, and it's completely free. If you have a Google Account, you already have access to it and don't need to sign up for anything else.
If you like your presentation tools free, open-source, and able to be hosted on the web or in your own GitHub repository, Reveal.js — and its online editor companion, Slides.com — are perfect for you. Reveal.js is a framework that lets you build robust slide decks and presentations using HTML or Markdown directly in your browser, so you don't have to download anything. The builder is remarkably robust and well-designed, not to mention simple and easy to use. It may seem like a developer's dream presentation tool, but you don't have to be one to make the most of it.
It's simple to create animations, transitions, graphs and charts, or to upload and attach your own to your presentation. Reveal.js makes it easy to check out those presentations on the go or embed them in your blog or web site. Similarly, you can just send a link out to people to view your presentation, or save a PDF of your entire slideshow. There are also a lot of advanced features available too — you can create presentations and keep them private, present your deck offline, control your presentation from a mobile device, and sync your work to Dropbox if you choose. You can see a full list of features here, most of which are free, but some only available with a Pro account.
Keynote is best known as Apple's presentation software offered as part of the iWork productivity suite. Thanks to the iWork for iCloud Beta, Keynote is also available entirely online if you're looking for a web-based presentation builder (and you have an Apple account and access to iWork.) The web version brings most of the same features to the table as the desktop version. It can open PowerPoint files, sports lots of templates to make designing a great-looking presentation from scratch easy, and lets you upload and add your own media, charts, graphs and other images. If you're enamoured with the transitions, styles, themes, and presentation types you've seen in Apple keynote speeches, it's worth a look if you have an iCloud account. All of your presentations are saved in iCloud, and available on your other Apple devices (and Windows PCs). You can present from any computer with a web browser.
Honourable mention this week to the Office Online version of PowerPoint, which is a solid choice if you're familiar with working in PowerPoint. A future contender to watch is Microsoft's Office Sway, a new product that Microsoft recently announced that wants to create a a complete shift in the way people create online presentations and multimedia.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Tell which online presentation designer you use (and why) in the comments.