Right now, I am in the middle of a huge Powerpoint project. My wife teaches medical professionals about best practices in breastfeeding and midwifery. She is a midwife, but has been presenting 45-hour trainings, as well as many other public talks, for many years. When we got together, I leveraged my 25+ years of design experience to take over the Powerpoint presentations.
I knew Powerpoint well enough to train my clients in the program, but it was (and still is) a real learning experience to spend so much time struggling to create beauty and order out of chaos. At first, I thought I just didn't know the program well enough. By now I realize that Powerpoint is just an AWFUL program.
I did a quick search before I started to write this blog and found that a gentleman named Doug Kessler wrote a blog on the identical subject about a year ago. Since he says exactly what I feel about Powerpoint I am going to let him take it from here:
In most of my life, if I hate a product, I just stop buying or using it. But Powerpoint isn’t like that.
Powerpoint is chained to my ankle for life. And I hate it.
I really hate Powerpoint
I don’t hate Powerpoint because it dumbs down our world. (People do that).
And I don’t hate Powerpoint because it’s responsible for nine gazillion mind-numbing decks (people did those too).
I hate Powerpoint because it is BAD SOFTWARE. And, since it was launched in 1990 – 23 years ago! – and is on its umpteenth release and has been used by billions of people THIS IS INEXCUSABLE. The only reason it can persist is that Powerpoint created and exploits a monopoly in presentation software. (Yes, I could use Keynote but most of the people I share my decks with cannot).
If there were even basic competition for this essential application, Powerpoint would have gone the way of the brown Zune.
Here’s why Powerpoint is such crappy software:
I have spent thousands of hours in Powerpoint. So even if I were in the Guinness Book of World Records under Cretin, I should have mastered it by now.
Not only have I not mastered it, I can’t even make it do the most basic things that I want without a ridiculous amount of faffing.
I can’t change the default font.
I can’t make it stop re-formatting my work.
I can’t put things where I want them.
I can’t detail the type except in the clunkiest way.
After thousands of hours of use, I ought to be able to do these things. After thousands of hours of use, a chimpanzee ought to be able to do these things.
Can anybody out there think of a tool in any other profession that is so central to that profession but so downright bad? I can’t either.
The two kinds of people who love Powerpoint
1) People who have no clue about how a document or presentation should look – they love Powerpoint because they are blind and ignorant. It gets words on pages fast. Job done.
2) People who read every manual and take every course – they love Powerpoint because they invested lots of time, money and effort getting really good at it. (There aren’t many of these people. Maybe ten Aspergic hobbyists with no cats, friends or loved ones).
Why people still buy and use something so crappy
Because the bastards bundled it with Office and made it the standard and we’re all stuck forever.
So, if you’re reading this Microsoft Powerpoint team: before calling your lawyers, please talk to your Usability Testing Team (You haven’t met them? Why does this not surprise me.) and tell them to watch a hundred normal people trying to wrestle something adequate out of your insanely frustrating software; then read their report and DO YOUR BLOODY JOBS. Please. Please. No really: please.
Is this just me?