Learn about contrast, and how and why it is important to occasionally break the mold and step outside the design template every now and then to surprise the audience and vary the pattern.
- [Instructor] Like slides need design consistency or similarity, strangely enough they also occasionally need some contrast to keep from becoming too dull or repetitive. There needs to be a balance between consistency and habituation where your audience ceases to really see or respond to your slides or content. And the way we can do that is to create strategic contrast. At its very heart, contrast creates focus for a PowerPoint slide and a PowerPoint deck which in turn helps to clarify and organize the slide's main message and the presentation's overall message.
So hopefully what you choose to contrast on the slide and in the deck coincides with your message's key points. Contrast much like similarity is an important part of a design that can communicate a great deal through the use of simple color, size, and shape. And without similarity or similar elements in the design, you can't have contrast. In other words, if all elements contrast with one another, what you have is chaos or clutter, a design that makes no visual sense whatsoever.
But this isn't about opposites. It's about finding balance both within a single slide and across all slides within your presentation. In PowerPoint the way you create contrast on a slide is the exact same way you create sameness through color, size, shape, texture, and orientation. Only this time instead of making the element similar, you try and vary the elements. In addition to contrasting through size, you can create contrast through color.
Now later on, we have an entire chapter dedicated to the topic of color. So this won't be the only time we talk color, not by a long shot. But through color, you can take a slide and pull out a piece of the design drawing attention to specifically similar areas, just like so. In this example, even without any information in our chunked layout, we can tell that the information in this third slot of our list is somehow more important than the rest and we can't help but look at it.
We can do the same thing with text. Here, nothing about the text really stands out, but I can change the color of one word, potential, maybe make it green to tie into the color of the plant. And now that word stands out a bit more. You can also contrast through size. Over here we have two elements that are the same which at a glance appear unremarkable, but now when we alter one of the elements and contrast the size greatly, they are not unremarkable.
The design is now dynamic. We have something to look at, something to consider. Size and scale make a big difference. Here it tells a story and creates a hierarchy and tells us what is most important. We can do this with text too. Coming back to this example, we don't have to just change the color of the word potential to make it stand out. We could instead change the size and make it the most important word in our sentence.
Now it really stands out from the rest and all I did was adjust the size of the font. If I really want to, I can even combine contrasting elements. Make it big and change the color. And another common way to create contrast is through shape. Since it is so easy to design or think about PowerPoint slides in terms of squares and rectangles, one way to contrast is to step outside or break away from this grid and design elements that just don't fit inside of a box.
Circles, triangles, any shape that pushes the boundary of the grid can be used effectively. Just be careful in doing so as this too can get repetitive and overused within a presentation. And I do want to issue a warning about changing the shape of text. PowerPoint comes with some tools that allow you to transform the shape of text. But in a presentation setting where the goal is clear and effortless communication, this completely defeats the purpose.
So please just pretend that this feature does not exist. Changing the font, the alignment, the position, all of those are far better more legible ways to transform the shape of your text. So yes, just like how you create similarity, you can create contrast through color, size, and shape. But above all, the biggest takeaway from this lesson, it's so important I'm repeating it, so take notes, make sure that what you are choosing to contrast in your slide deck is important to your message.
When you contrast something, you are putting a big red circle around it saying this is important, pay attention, remember it. So whatever you do, when you create contrast, make sure what is contrasted is meaningful.
- Designing as non-designers
- Key design components
- The need for hierarchy
- Hierarchy in bulleted slides
- When bullets are cognitively necessary
- Using space effectively
- Creating similarity and contrast strategically