Microsoft PowerPoint vs. Adobe Creative Suite

Time to read: About 5-7 minutes
Intended for: UX/UI Designers
Key takeaway: Is PowerPoint the ideal design tool? No, but in the case of a project where my client needed everything made in PowerPoint, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it proved that that sometimes as a designer, you have to think outside the box.

A Creative Design Use Case

Recently one of my clients asked me to design all of their communications materials in Microsoft PowerPoint. This included email newsletters, informational handouts, and various other campaign graphics. My initial reaction was…not positive.

I’ve been a designer for the past 15 years, and enjoy using Adobe’s Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.) to design custom solutions. Needless to say, I was not very thrilled about having to design in a program that felt somewhat finicky and unprofessional.

A person wearing a suit and tie

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How I used to be as a designer…

For one thing, PowerPoint has always made it hard to position and size objects with precision. Also, for the times that I was required to use the program for design, the overall user interface felt inefficient and unintuitive compared with the refined experience in the Adobe platform. Despite these poor past experiences, I feel much differently today after working with PowerPoint for a few months.

PowerPoint = Easy Collaboration with non-designers

Much to my surprise, PowerPoint has actually been a really nice way to work collaboratively with the client because I can simply hand off my PowerPoint documents for them to edit further. No training or expensive software is needed on their end and it’s really easy to go back and forth with updates.

Also, I have been very pleased with how Microsoft has improved PowerPoint’s user experience with actions like positioning, resizing, and coloring objects on the canvas. A lot of those annoying quirks PowerPoint used to have seem to be resolved (or at least improved), and I’m glad that Microsoft has made the effort.

Side note: PowerPoint vs. InDesign

PowerPoint is a single program, whereas Adobe Creative Suite is, well, a suite or collection of programs. The program on the Adobe side that is the most similar to PowerPoint would probably be InDesign. InDesign is used for page layout, and PowerPoint is used for slide layout.

Keep in mind that while page layout is InDesign’s primary function, many designers use other apps for page layout too (Illustrator, XD, Photoshop, etc.). On the flip side, while PowerPoint’s primary function is slide layout for presentations, it worked well enough to use as a design tool for my client’s needs.

Getting out of my comfort zone

With all that being said, unless client needs dictate otherwise, I’ll always default to the appropriate Adobe application for my design work. For example, I’ll use Adobe XD to create wireframes and prototypes, Illustrator to work on vectors, Photoshop for image manipulation, and InDesign for page layout. However, my PowerPoint project just goes to show you that you shouldn’t be locked into using just one tool or set of tools. Sometimes the best solution is something that you haven’t considered.

If I refused to take on PowerPoint design projects, I would be passing up a lot of work as a professional designer just because I was uncomfortable with the software program. Now that I look back on it, the whole experience in having to design with PowerPoint has made me grow as a designer by getting me out of my comfort zone and adapting to what makes the most sense for my clients.