We live in a PowerPoint world, but despite Microsoft's best efforts it's not that easy to put together a professional looking slide deck with the powerful Office presentation app. The learning curve for more than a few slides with simple bullet points is simply too steep.
But a free browser-based alternative called Haiku Deck does a credible job of empowering even novices to create slick presentations with a few mouse clicks. It does this with a wizard-like approach that presents you default slides and several options that you can try out by clicking them.
Of course, you don't get all of the features that make PowerPoint so powerful (no transition or audio effects, for example), but you don't have to spend hours learning to use the software, either. Sharing your work is easy, too — Haiku Deck stores your presentations online (you must create an account to use it), but gives you loads of links for downloading them to social media sites and saving them as PDFs or PowerPoint files. A permissions feature lets you choose between making a deck public, sharing it only with people who get a link from you, or keeping it private.
iPad or web, you choose
Haiku Deck may already be familiar to Apple iPad aficionados: Its iPad app has been around for about a year. But on the Web, it's OS agnostic, based on HTML5. The two versions are pretty similar, although the web app lacks a feature or two available on the iPad. For example, on the iPad you can adjust the proportions in a pie chart by dragging and dropping the segments; on the web, you can only change the numbers themselves. However, if you work in the iPad app, you can save your changes and they'll appear when you open your deck in the browser.
Not the least of Haiku Deck's charms is a tutorial in the form of a screen overlay that you see when you first launch the service. It has whiteboard-style annotations with arrows pointing to major features.
The default starting slide is a title screen with dummy text for a heading and a dek (a subhead or brief summary paragrph). It's the first of four text screen options you see by clicking on the Text icon in the left navigation bar (the other three are a bulleted list, a numbered list, and lines of plain text). Don't let the nav bar intimidate you: It has only four icons — text, graphics, layout, and notes.
As with a Word template, you substitute your text for the dummy text by clicking on a field and typing. You can then change the look of the type by choosing one of the six included free themes, which dictate the fonts and their relative sizes. (Haiku Deck's business model calls for adding additional themes you would pay for.) As you type, Haiku Deck automatically resizes the fonts so that your text fits the screen.
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