Think presentation software, and you might automatically think PowerPoint. Microsoft’s decades old presenting tool has been updated and improved time and again, and is our own go-to presentation design software. However, PowerPoint isn’t your only option, with some people opting for Apple’s Keynote. But which is best? There’s only one way to find out.
Instead of simply deciding which of the two presentation builders is best, we’ve decided to look at both from different perspectives. Not everyone designing a presentation is doing so in a presentation design office, working to tight deadlines, creating truly stunning things for some of the world’s biggest companies. Not everyone is us.
Therefore we’ll break PowerPoint Vs Keynote down to a list of pros and cons. We’ll then analyse them all, highlighting what kind of person they each might suit. So, beginning with the underdog…
- It’s free. Well, kinda. Right now you could connect to Apple’s App Store and download Keynote for free… as long as you have an Apple device (more on that in the ‘cons’). Still, if you’re already kitted out with Apple swag, you’re laughing - even if you only own an iPhone.
- It’s easy to use. Like a lot of Apple’s native software, simplicity is paramount. That means that not only is Keynote easy on the eyes (minimalists rejoice), but the user interface is simple and easy to master vs the likes of PowerPoint. For a complete presentation novice, Keynote could therefore act as a quick and easy way to hammer out a fairly simple slide deck. Although there are more advanced features to take advantage of, Apple have laid out the basics in a very accessible way.
- Device compatibility. Keynote is good for Apple MacBooks, iPads and even iPhones, using a tweaked user interface to accommodate touch controls and a smaller screen. This means there is a greater freedom of where you build, and from where you present, your slideshow. Being able to run Keynote from your iPhone or iPad means less tech to carry around. Apple have even built an Apple Watch applet, allowing you to use your Watch as a remote control, cycling through slides hands-free. The PowerPoint Vs Keynote fight continues.
- Good for multimedia. Apple’s Keynote is known for being excellent at presenting video, images, and sound. That simple user interface makes it a cinch to import large and complex media files and edit how they display as part of the deck. As presentations increasingly utilise (and presentation audiences increasingly expect) video media, Keynote’s ease of use could be a real winner here.
- Expensive. What? But Keynote being free was one of the pros given above? Yes, and although the software might be free to download, you first need to own an Apple device. MacBooks, iPads and iPhones are amongst the most expensive laptops, tablets and smartphones available. Keynote is free, but only after you fork out for a pricey bit of tech.
- Restricted use. Keynote will, therefore, only run on Apple devices. You can’t download it for your Windows or Linux PC. Nor is there an Android version of the Keynote app. You are able to save your presentation as a PowerPoint file, but there no guarantees the formatting and design will remain the same. Essentially, it’s Apple device or nothing.
- Less support. Although Apple will be happy to help you with your issues (usually for a price), there isn’t a large community of Keynote developers online. Search for help and advice and you will find some, but nowhere near as much as you’ll find for PowerPoint. Also, if you choose to hire the services of an outsourced presentation design team, chances are they'll be pros in PowerPoint, not Keynote, so getting their help and advice with it could be tricky.
- Timely to switch to. Although we’ve already made the case that Keynote is quick and easy to learn, that might not be the case for all. If you’re making the switch from PowerPoint it might take a huge chunk of your time to re-learn the basics. Not an issue if this is the first time you’ve ever built a presentation, but as most of us have at least some familiarity with PowerPoint Vs Keynote, the switch could prove frustrating.
- Feature-packed. Over the past 30 years PowerPoint has picked up so many new features and abilities that it is undoubtedly the most complex presentation design tool. PowerPoint lets you create a slideshow that looks very un-PowerPoint-y (very technical term, that), Vs something like Keynote.
- Easy to navigate. This is a pro born more from familiarity than actual ease of use. Most of us, and certainly nearly all business people, will be used to using Microsoft’s Office suite of tools daily. Even if you only ever delve into Word, the layout of menus and sub-menus is essentially the same in PowerPoint, so you can easily find your way around.
- Easy to edit. PowerPoint’s open, slide-by slide format means it is very easy to fiddle with your content. Editing text, images and even seemingly complicated animations can take just a few seconds and a few clicks. If you need to make some last minute alterations to your deck, you can dive straight in.
- Everyone uses it. Well, that’s not exactly true, but it is by far the most used tool for making presentations, Vs the likes of Keynote. That means that as well as finding help and advice about it online, in forums or blogs just like these, there is greater freedom. Chances are the venue in which you are presenting will have a computer with PowerPoint on it, in case you can’t take your own tech. If you use an external design agency via presentation outsourcing, they'll most probably use PowerPoint by default. It's the language everyone speaks in the industry.
- It’s not free. It really isn’t. PowerPoint might be a part of our culture, but it’s still something you have to pay for. It's nothing to a big business to buy several dozen licenses for their staff, but for a freelancer or independent trader the monthly or yearly subscription to Office 365 doesn’t go unnoticed.
- It’s kinda complicated. Although the feature-rich nature was a pro above, that same issue can also be a con… especially to a newbie. There are just so many things you can do in PowerPoint these days that something as simple as adding a transition might be difficult to find. The search feature ‘Tell me what you want to do…’ does help with this, but not everyone knows about it.
- Get carried away. Once you discover the wealth of features at your fingertips, PowerPoint can be a little… well, distracting. There are so many themes, transitions, animations and general fiddly bits and bobs that it’s easy to get carried away. Without a clear design aesthetic in mind, and a firm story to tell with you content, you might get lost.
- It’s expected. It is, isn’t it? If you’re no design whizz and aren't able to create something truly eye-catching, you run the danger of producing a very PowerPoint-y PowerPoint presentation. Which is a thing. If you’re competing against others who are all using it, PowerPoint, Vs Keynote, might not seem like an original choice
So, who might they suit?
Keynote Vs PowerPoint, PowerPoint Vs Keynote. Well? It’s clear that current Apple tech users have a head start here. If you already own a Macbook, iPad or iPhone, there is a free download of Keynote waiting for you right now. Business people using Macs and iPhones might scoff at that, especially because PowerPoint is available for Mac, but to a student or business people working on a tight budget, the cost saving shouldn’t be ignored. There’s no monthly subscription, and the program has been made specifically for your device. Do it.
But while the lack of cost might appeal to some, the lack of features may sway others. Keynote seems great for producing relatively simple and minimalist decks, with a heavy reliance on multimedia. But those with an eye for design and creativity might soon lose interest.
PowerPoint, therefore, with its intimidatingly huge list of features and customisation is best for the pro designer. However, it may also be best for those presenters who aren’t professional at designing, but at least know what they want. Those editable templates can come in handy for businesses, as it can be guaranteed that all the sales staff are presenting with the right colours, fonts and logos.
If you've decided to outsource all your PowerPoint design, the agency will definitely be using it. There's a reason PowerPoint is the industry standard, so if you're considering outsourcing your presentations, expect to find agencies who use only that.
So, as a PowerPoint design agency, we lean toward dear Microsoft’s efforts. Still, it might be worth at least checking Keynote out. If you need a quick and simple presentation, already own an Apple device, and are looking for something easy to operate - even on your phone - give Keynote a whirl.
We’ll be sticking with PowerPoint, however. If you need us to build you something amazing with it, get in touch today.