Enterprise software market is a lucrative cash cow. Once you get the professional types start using your apps, you are probably set for life. They don’t usually change their course midway and are accustomed to familiarity. But when it comes to presentations, office dwellers always look for ways to make their content pop. That’s a potential opening for Web 2.0 companies aspiring to disrupt the enterprise app scene.
I recently discovered SpeakerDeck, which claims to be the best way to share presentations online. Simply upload your slides as a PDF and the web app will turn them into a beautiful online experience. Presentations can be viewed at SpeakerDeck or can be shared on any website with an embed code. Can it beat Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Presentations?
Ease of Use
After signing up at what could probably be the simplest sign up for a web app, I was redirected back to the homepage pending an email verification. Once that is done, the app took me to an empty dashboard with an array of empty boxes. I was half expecting the app to be deserted, but the empty boxes without any controls are too jarring and useless.
May be a plus sign, or anything, that brings up the presentation creation wizard or a sample slide walking users through the presentation creation process, would do much more good. There aren’t many options, menus or controls to choose from, which keeps the user interface simple and tidy. However, it can be hard to find what to do, until at last I discovered that you’re supposed to use the New Presentation link at the top to kickstart the process.
User Interface and Design Kinks
The upload page was designed tastefully, but sadly, I wasn’t able to upload the PDF file. The Select PDF to Upload button was not responding to my clicks. I tried refreshing the page multiple times to no avail. Then I noticed a note at the bottom of the page to refer to the FAQ section of the app in case of a similar issue. To my surprise, the FAQ had a solution which was very specific to the issue was facing. Apparently this is a common occurrence.
The issue seems to be the FlashBlock addon that was installed in the web browser. I have installed one in my Chrome Browser and the solution was to disable it. SpeakerDeck does not require flash, but it will try to use it if it’s installed to provide a better overall experience. Understandable to some extent, but is annoying nevertheless. I wasn’t inclined to disable the addon and used Firefox instead.
Uploading a PDF
You can upload one file at a time and the progress indicator keeps you updated of the status of the upload. The upload was actually quick and painless. However, it takes a bit of time for the web app to process the uploaded file and convert it to a presentation. There is another neat little progress bar letting you know of the progress, slide by slide.
You can add some details pertaining to the file, assign it a category and make it private or public. You can do this even while the conversion is in progress.
You can use the forward and rewind icons to move back and forth between slides. If you are planning to jump somewhere in the middle, click on the slider. Hover the cursor over the slider to view the respective slides in that position as thumbnails.
Once you find the slide you want to jump to, click on the thumbnail to see the it in its full glory. The good thing is that SpeakerDeck allows you to share either the entire presentation or just the current slide you are viewing to your friends via Twitter and Facebook. The slide can be downloaded as a PDF file too!
What SpeakerDeck has accomplished with a polished interface has not been replicated completely when it comes to being intuitive. Again, an icon placed prominently would be much more handy while creating a new presentation. On a positive note, everything happens faster than expected at SpeakerDeck. Sure, it took sometime to get my file converted, but I will have to admit that the original PDF file was an open source Ruby ebook that was hundreds of pages long.
The developers might want to look into the FlashBlock situation as well. Instead of asking the users to disable the addon, another option that doesn’t use Flash will make a great addition. WordPress has implemented this brilliantly. And while they are at it, a fullscreen mode will make SpeakerDeck more fun to use.
Share Your Thoughts!
Do you think a flashy presentation app or template can make your audience pay attention? Have your ever tried using a presentation app other than PowerPoint?