Interactive content is everywhere. We navigate screens for everything from buying groceries at the supermarket to streaming movies in our living rooms. This makes sense, since studies show it’s a great tool for engagement. Of course, you could be intimidated by the idea of spending hours crafting interactive content in expensive programs. Thankfully, it’s incredibly easy to make interactive content in PowerPoint. Read on to find out how.
Before you can design your interactive content in PowerPoint, you must pick your platforms. This will determine the limits of your design. For instance, interactive content must be larger on tablets and smaller on mobile.
To determine which platforms you should design for, read our breakdown of every major platform below.
When it comes to mobile design, don’t think small. Think compact. A common mistake for mobile design is to cram as much content onto the screen as possible. Instead of cramming, consider condensing. For instance, instead of stuffing your screen with navigation buttons, hide each button behind a hamburger button.
Likewise, keep your content clipped. Consider sentences instead of paragraphs. If you have to say something more substantial, simply insert a link to another slide. This applies to all interactive content in PowerPoint.
Tablets are all about touch. While the same can be said for mobiles, tablets offer a lot more space. This increase in space enables a lot more interactivity.
Because tablets offer more options, you must establish how your users will interact with them. Will they be mobile at a busy convention? Locked into a kiosk in your company’s lobby? Consider these options for interactivity and design accordingly.
When we say desktop, we don’t mean tablet. We mean a computer with a connected keyboard and mouse. This means you won’t need to consider such elements as a pop-up keyboard. Desktop content is also much easier to prototype, as you are likely designing with a desktop copy of PowerPoint.
What do I want to design?
So you’ve picked your platform. Now what? Don’t just say “I’m going to design interactive content in PowerPoint”. Be specific. Study your audience’s needs, now imagine how you can fulfil them by creating interactive content in PowerPoint.
For instance, let’s imagine you’re designing a learning module for local school-children. Because kids have short attention spans, they’ll need your content to be entertaining and engaging. In that case, you might consider creating a fun quiz.
Whatever you want to create with PowerPoint, there are fundamental rules you must follow. Before we get to those, we’ll start with the most basic element of interactive content:
Beginner button design
Buttons are one of the easiest parts of creating interactive content in PowerPoint. First of all, you must create a button that complements your design. Unless you’d like a minimalist look, this begins by creating a background shape for your button. An easy way to achieve this is to go to the “Insert” tab and insert any shape you like.
Next, you can adjust the size, colour and texture of your shape by selecting it and clicking the “Format” tab.
Advanced button design
If you’re looking to make a very specific sort of shape for your button, consider combining shapes. To achieve this, insert the two shapes you wish to combine. Now, shift-click both and go to the “Format” tab as above. This time you should see the “Merge Shapes” option on the far left.
By hovering over each option, you can see how your shapes will combine.
Once you have created a background for your button, you can overlay it with symbols and text. To do this, simply insert the text or symbol you wish to use. Resize it over your background, then combine them as above.
Making buttons interactive
Now that you’ve designed your button, you must make it an interactive element. To do this, select your button and go to the “Insert” tab. Click “Action”, which will activate the following option box:
If you want users to activate your button with a click (or touch), adjust the settings under the “Mouse click” tab. If you want users to activate your button by mousing over it, adjust the settings under the “Mouse over” tab.
As well as navigation, buttons can be used to trigger animations and the appearance of other important elements. Say you want to create a hamburger button that pops out a menu to the rest of your content. First, create the hamburger button and each element in that menu. Now, group each element in the menu and apply a line animation from off-screen. In the animation pane, right-click that group and go to “Timing”.
In the ensuing pop-up menu, click Triggers. Tick the box which says “Start effect on click of” and select your hamburger button.
In PowerPoint, buttons are primarily used to navigate content through the “Hyperlink to” option you see above. To explore the art of navigation design, read on.
If users can’t find their way around your content, the effort you put into creating it will be wasted. While there are many options for navigating interactive content in PowerPoint, the soul of good navigation is simplicity. Below are a few options for understandable navigation interfaces.
Vertical navigation menus
You should only insert a vertical navigation menu if you have the space. By placing a vertical navigation menu on the left, it will be easier for your users to find. By placing one on the right, you can save the left side of your screen for something more important.
Long scrolling designs let users scroll through your content without navigating menus. This makes them much easier to use.
To create long scrolling content, you must create one long image in PowerPoint. Insert this image into your first slide. Now click duplicate and crop it to your desired dimensions. Under the Transitions tab, add a Push transition between your current slide and the next one. Repeat these steps for every slide, and crop each to the position you would like your users to scroll to.
Single option home page
This design gives users one option to interact with. That allows them to interact with your content immediately, making it easier to funnel them through your experience thereafter.
A single option home page also keeps your design clear of clutter, allowing your content to stand out.
Instead of hiding your content behind a menu, this turns your content into a menu. By using large images overlayed with text, your users can immediately explore your content.
Mastering slide masters
The key to creating effective interactive content in PowerPoint is consistency. By keeping your designs similar across your content, you’ll save your users the stress of learning new layouts.
Of course, consistency can be mind-numbingly boring to maintain. This is especially true for interactive content, which can contain hundreds of intricate elements. To save you the hours it would take to adjust them manually, we’re going to show you how to create a slide master.
A slide master allows you to edit multiple slides at once, saving you hours of adjusting content.
Creating a slide master
Creating a slide master is quite simple. All you have to do is click the View tab and select Slide Master. This will insert a slide above all other slides in the slide view sidebar.
Applying universal themes
Your theme affects the colours, fonts, and effects of your slides. This is essential to consider when creating interactive content in PowerPoint. By adjusting the theme of your master slide, you can quickly adjust the look of your interactive content in PowerPoint. By using the Background group on your Slide Master tab, you can do the following:
- To apply a built-in theme, click Themes. If you aren’t satisfied with the themes you see, don’t worry. You can right-click any theme to see more ways to apply it.
- To adjust the colour of your theme in your master slide, select Colors.
- To set a style for the background of your interactive content, click Background Styles.
Changing the font throughout your interactive content
This little trick will save you hours spent updating every textbox. To change your font, follow these two steps:
- Click your slide master at the top of the Slide Master pane.
- Go to the Background group and click Fonts to adjust the font across your PowerPoint. Pick a font from the list, or click Customise Fonts to access more options.
Add effects across your interactive content
Effects can include anything from sensational shadows to fabulous fills. To enhance your interactive content in PowerPoint with these powerful effects, follow these two steps:
- At the top of the Slide Master pane, click your slide master.
- Click Effects to select from the variety on offer.
Inserting multiple slide masters
- Click the View tab, then click Slide Master.
- Go to the Edit Master group and select Insert Slide.
- Drag the new slide master from beneath the original slide master to above the group of slides you want to adjust.
- Edit the new slide master to suit the style of this slide group.
Custom slideshows are the cornerstone for most kinds of interactive content. By understanding how to create a custom slideshow in PowerPoint, you can make all kinds of interactive content. So what is a custom slideshow?
A custom slideshow will only display certain slides at your command. It can also hyperlink through multiple slides, allowing users to explore your content.
Basic custom slideshows
Hyperlinked custom slideshows
Hyperlinked custom shows are ideal for organising interactive content in PowerPoint. For instance, imagine you’re creating an app to educate employees on your organisation. To begin, you would create a slide with links to learn more about different departments. Each link would lead to a custom slideshow explaining each department.
By linking between custom slideshows, you can create all kinds of interactive content in PowerPoint.
Creating basic custom slideshows
Creating basic custom slideshows is simple in PowerPoint 2016. All you have to do is follow these six easy steps:
- In PowerPoint 2016, click the Slideshow tab.
- Now click Custom Slideshow and select Custom Shows.
- In the pop-up menu, select New.
- Under Slides in Presentation, select the slides you want and click Add.
- Change the order of your slides by clicking Slides in Custom Show, selecting a slide, then clicking one of the arrows to move the slide up or down in your list.
- Type a name in the Slideshow name box, then click OK.
Creating hyperlinked custom slideshows
By mastering these ten steps, you can start making navigable interactive content in PowerPoint:
- In PowerPoint 2016, click the Slideshow tab.
- Now click Custom Slideshow and select Custom Shows.
- In the pop-up menu, click New.
- Under Slides in Presentation, select the slides you want to include in your main custom show and click Add.
- Change the order of your slides by clicking Slides in Custom Show, selecting a slide, then clicking one of the arrows to move the slide up or down in your list.
- Type a name in the Slideshow name box then click OK.
- To create hyperlinks to your supporting content, start by selecting the text or object that you want to act as a link.
- Click the Insert tab, now click Hyperlink.
- In the pop-up menu, click Place in This Document (which can be found under Link to)
- Do one of the following:
- To link to a custom show, go to the Select a place in this document list. Now select the custom show you would like to link to, then click the Show and return check-box.
- To link to a location in your current presentation, go to the Select a place in this document list. Now select the slide that you would like to link to.
Starting a custom show from inside PowerPoint
Before you can publish your interactive content, you need to test it. To do this, you must see how it runs in PowerPoint. To do this, follow these six steps:
- In PowerPoint 2016, click the Slideshow tab
- Now click Set Up Slideshow.
- In the pop-up menu, click Custom show then select the custom slideshow that you want to test.
- Click OK.
- Under the Slideshow tab, click Custom Slideshow then click Custom Shows.
- In the Custom Shows list, select a show and click Show.
Menu design is the most fundamental component for creating interactive content in PowerPoint. Without it, your user will struggle to see all of your content. Below are eleven things to keep in mind when making menus in PowerPoint:
1 – Screens
The kind of menu you can make will depend on the size of your screen. When designing for large screens, you should never use small menus or icons. Instead, use all available space to your advantage.
2 – Expectation
Your users will expect to see your menus in certain spots. You should understand these expectations and meet them. Usually your users will expect to see menus on the top and left sides of their screen.
3 – Appearance
Once you’ve set the size and placement of your menu, you must makes sure that the links look interactive. If your menu doesn’t look clickable, or tappable, it’s useless. Avoid making your menus too flat, and ensure they stand out from the rest of your design.
4 – Weight
To make your menus stand out, you must give them weight. This means strong borders, pop-out textures, and contrasting colour. Of course, weight is less important when you place your menus in a familiar locations. In fact, weight is almost unnecessary if you keep your design clear.
To utilise the principles of design, see our article on how to make great content using universal design principles.
5 – Contrast
When you use PowerPoint’s hyperlink text feature, you should choose colours that contrast with the background. Otherwise your links will be unrecognisable.
6 – Orientation
Your users should always understand where they are in your interactive content. If they don’t, they won’t be able to get to the good stuff. To do this, design your menus with cues that indicate your users current location. To do this in PowerPoint, you could apply a different progress bar to each slide.
7 – Understandability
Make sure your users understand what will happen when they interact with any element. This starts by understanding what your users will look for, then creating category labels that feel familiar and relevant.
Never use language and imagery your users might not understand. Instead, use words and images that instantly explain what will happen when they interact with each element.
8 – Scannability
As well as making links easy to understand, you must make them easy to scan. This starts by placing menus in familiar locations. After that, ensure your descriptions are short and straight to the point.
9 – Imagery
Of course, words aren’t the only way we communicate. If you can, include images, graphics, and colours that give an impression of each option in your menu. This will make it easier for users to quickly scan your content, as well as help international users understand each option.
PROTIP: To access classic menu icons in PowerPoint 2016, go to the Insert tab and click Icons.
10 – Size
Make menu links big enough to be easily tapped or clicked. Links that are too small or too close together are a huge source of frustration for mobile users. They also make large-screen designs unnecessarily difficult to use, so avoid them at all cost.
11 – Hierarchy
Consider the areas your users will want to access the most. Now keep those options closest to the top of your menus.
What Kind of Menus Should I Make?
There are two main kinds of menus:
- Drop-down menus
- Sticky menus
Let’s look at the advantages of both below:
Drop-down menus do what they say on the tin. That is, they drop-down or pop out when your user clicks a button. Drop-down menus can be enhanced with cascading sub-menus. These are additional drop-down menus which activate when users click options in your first menu.
There are several advantages to drop-down menus:
- They are useful when there is minimal space, especially on mobile.
- Drop-down menus allow your content to take centre stage
- These menus require less processing power
Sticky menus are menus which stay in one spot while your user explores your interactive content. They can be placed anywhere on your screen, though they are usually found on the top and side.
There are several advantages to sticky menus:
- They give users a greater sense of control, as they are always found in the same spot.
- Sticky menus are extremely effective for interactive content that encourages action, such as digital sales catalogues.
- These menus are easier to create, as they do not require complex animations
Whether you want a drop-down or sticky menu, both are easy to create in PowerPoint. To begin, let’s explore the art of designing drop-down menus:
Designing drop-down menus in PowerPoint
To create an effective drop-down menu in PowerPoint, follow these five steps:
1 – Sketch your menus
Grab a notepad and pen. Now make a rough sketch of what you want each of your menus to look like. Draw arrows between the buttons in your first menu and the sub-menus they will activate. Show this design to others and see what they think.
2 – Establish your menu button
Start a new slide. Now insert a shape. You could use a basic hamburger button, or you could combine your shape with text.
3 – Add menu options
Now add subsequent menu options using appropriate shapes. Position them under your menu button, and add text or symbols that explain where they will take your user to.
4 – Group menu options
Before you can make your menu options drop down, you must group them. Select them all by holding down Shift and clicking each of them. Now right-click your selection and click Group.
5 – Add animation to the group of menu options
Now you’re ready for the fun part! To make these options appear when your user clicks the menu button, do the following:
- Click your group of menu options.
- Now click the Animations tab and select “Add Animation”.
- From THAT drop-down menu, select an appropriate animation. We recommend Wipe.
- Click Effect Options and choose From Top.
Of course, this is only the start of an effective drop-down menu. If you really want to impress your users, you’d do well to add cascading sub-menus to your first drop-down. Pulling this off in PowerPoint is pretty simple. All it takes is a little smoke and mirrors.
Step 1 – Add an element in your background for your cascading sub-menus to hide behind
Simply stretch a shape or an image behind the space which will be occupied by your primary sub-menu.
Step 2 – Create each of your secondary sub-menus
There should be one for each button in your primary sub-menu. After you create them, hide them behind that element you inserted in step 1.
PROTIP: As your secondary sub-menus will take up most of the screen, you should make them as minimal as possible.
Step 3 – Insert invisible buttons in the space your primary sub-menu will occupy
Making elements invisible is an integral part of designing interactive content in PowerPoint. In order to do it, follow these 3 simple steps:
- Insert shapes where each button in your primary sub-menu group will appear.
- Right-click each shape and select “Format autoshape”. Set the shape’s fill colour to No Fill and its line colour to No Line, then click OK.
- Using the button-making skills you picked up before, turn each invisible shape into a trigger that will cause its corresponding sub-menus to pop out.
Step 4 – Insert invisible buttons in the space your secondary sub-menu will occupy
Follow the same instructions you did under step 2, but don’t turn each shape into a trigger. Instead, insert hyperlinks to the slides you want your users to access when they click the corresponding button in your secondary sub-menu.
Designing sticky menus in PowerPoint
While sticky menus are simple to build, they’re deceptively difficult to design. Because of this, it’s best to sketch your sticky menu before you start building. As you sketch, make sure you consider these three things:
Your content comes first
By content, we mean all the things around your sticky menu. Design your content first so you can put your sticky menu in a place which won’t obstruct it.
Your sticky menu is a frame for your content
In the art world, frames can complement your artwork. The same principle applies to interactive content in PowerPoint. Once you’ve positioned your menu, make sure its design elements enhance the appearance of your content. For more insights into this, check out our article on choosing a colour scheme.
Your sticky menu should be simple
Because you have limited space, you must leave unnecessary elements out. To keep it simple, consider simple icons and drop-down menus.
Text-boxes, tick-boxes, and other essentials for interactive forms
To access elements like text-boxes and option buttons, click the “File” tab and scroll down to “Options”.
In the ensuing pop-up menu, click Customize Ribbon. In the menu on the right, scroll down to Developer, tick the box next to it, and click OK.
Now you should have the Developer tab available on the right of the top menu bar. This is essential for creating interactive content in PowerPoint. Under the developer tab, you should see these essential interactive elements listed above Controls:
After you select the element you’d like to insert, click and drag in your slide to add it to your interactive content.
Multiple Choice Quizzes
It’s incredibly easy to make this kind of interactive content in PowerPoint. All it takes are questions, answers, and these simple steps:
1 – Start with a standout title
This is easy enough in the title box of your first slide. For fun, we’ll call ours The Star Wars Quiz:
2 – Create a question slide
To do this, simply create a new slide. Design this slide so the question is clear, and that you have enough space to include clickable answers. Try spicing up the slide with an image, as well as an eye-catching design.
3 – Add Reply Options
First, write out your answers. Now, insert a new slide for each answer. We are going to hyperlink each answer to a slide which will tell the user whether or not they were correct. To turn an answer into a hyperlink, highlight the answer and click Insert -> Link. Your quiz should look a little something like this:
4 – Designing Feedback Slides
Just as before, you should design these with complementary images and text. On top of this, you need to insert a hyperlink to the next question (or the original if they got it wrong). Create a new slide, and create a hyperlink to that new slide as you did above.
If you want something that looks a little sexier than a hyperlink, try adding an invisible action button to your slide. To do that, start with your blank feedback slide:
Now, insert a shape over the area you would like users to be able to click on.
Under the format tab, set the shape to have no fill and no outline.
Now, select your invisible shape. Click the insert tab, then click “Action”.
Finally, click the “Hyperlink to” option. In the drop-down, select the slide you would like users to go to when they click that part of the screen.
App prototypes are incredibly easy to create in PowerPoint. They also make it much easier to secure funding for your ideas without a finished product. To make your app mockups in PowerPoint, follow these 5 steps:
1 – Sketch the flow of your app on a piece of paper
Before you start designing your slides, you’ll need to know what you are doing. To illustrate the flow of your app, grab a pencil and plan it out. It shouldn’t be anything too fancy: just a few basic bubbles with arrows pointing to the different options they can access.
2 – Draw a rough sketch of each screen in your app
Again, these screens don’t have to be incredibly intricate. In fact, they’re really like a more elaborate version of your flow diagram from before. That said, you should be able to glance at them and get a clear idea of how your finished app will work. Make sure there are arrows connecting each button with the screens they will activate.
3 – Start building in PowerPoint
Open a new presentation and adjust it to the dimensions of the device your app is intended for. Now start a new slide for each sketch from before. Using shapes, text, and the principles of designing interactive content in PowerPoint, build a rough version of your rough sketches. Don’t worry about making them interactive at this stage. That will come with our next step.
4 – Link your elements
Using the steps from our section on creating hyperlinked custom slideshows, start stitching your slides together. Follow the arrows from your rough sketches, and you should have a working prototype before you know it!
5 – Export your prototype
To earn as much feedback as you can, you’ll need to show your prototype to as many people as possible. Thankfully, PowerPoint allows you to export your PowerPoints as interactive PDFs. These are the best option for an app prototype, as they are accessible on almost any device.
To export your prototype as an interactive PDF, simply click the File tab and select Create PDF/XPS Document. A PDF will be able to support the hyperlinked content, but not animations. Of course, animations aren’t necessary in the prototype phase.
Digital catalogues are one of the best things you can build through interactive design in PowerPoint. They can showcase your products in all kinds of interesting ways, and can be updated to include all of your new offerings.
Best of all, catalogues are incredibly easy to create in PowerPoint. As you create, you must keep a few fundamental design principles in mind:
Tailor your catalogue to the audience
As you design your digital catalogue, you must keep your customers top of mind. This means you must make your decisions to meet their needs.
For instance, imagine you’re designing a digital catalogue for an older audience. To help them comprehend your catalogue, you should avoid slang and use large letters. By applying this principle to every design decision, you’ll make it easier for your audience to purchase your products and services.
Place your most important products on the first pages of your digital catalogue
As you can imagine, these are the most important pages in your digital catalogue. This makes digital catalogues different from printed ones, where your front and back covers are the most valuable. This is because they are the most visible. For this reason, you must design them to draw your audience into the rest of your catalogue.
Never put too many products on one page. As you can imagine, that kind of clutter just looks unattractive. It’s also extremely unnecessary. After all, you don’t have to pay for printing.
Instead of cluttering your pages, keep them simple. Stick to a few products and services per page. This will allow you to show larger images and clearer descriptions. On the note of simplicity, you should also…
Avoid busy backgrounds
This makes sense, but many digital catalogues miss the mark. After all, you want your products to get the attention instead of the background. To keep your background’s simple, skim through our article on simplifying your designs.
Use large images
The larger your image, the more attention you’ll attract from your audience. This comes from one of the advantages of creating interactive content in PowerPoint: You don’t have to pay for printing.
As you insert your images, ensure they align with the dimensions of your audience’s device.
Design in spreads instead of individual pages
This is how readers will see your catalogue. By designing for double page spreads, your audience will process your catalogue more easily.
To effectively design for double-page spreads, consider the eye flow of your audience. Generally, the eyes of your audience will start on the top left and move diagonally across your double page spreads. For this reason, your copy must sit below your product images or to the left. This will help your audience associate the descriptions of your products with their images.
A final word on interactive content in PowerPoint
As you can see, designing interactive content in PowerPoint is an easy and effective solution. Not only can you save thousands in hiring expensive programmers, you can extend the life of your interactive content by ensuring it is easily editable.
Of course, we’ve barely covered the intricacies of interactive content in PowerPoint. We could talk all about the complex content you can create, but it might take years to master. If you’re after interactive content that’s a little more complex, contact our experienced designers today.
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