The design process is rarely ever complete once you have your first design, mockup or prototype. Design is an iterative cycle that involves gathering feedback, testing with users and getting buy-in from team members, executives or clients. If you’re working in a design role, you may find yourself preparing presentations, designing slides or communicating design intent to various stakeholders.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to make a presentation leveraging various presentation features, as well as how to use the Presentation plugin within Adobe XD to present design concepts and create animated presentations.
From ideation to communication
Adobe XD is designed to make your end to end design process more efficient, from ideation, to sharing and handoff. There are several features in Adobe XD that can assist you in creating and delivering presentations, either live to an audience or asynchronously through recorded video. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use Adobe XD to make presentations.
Guides, grids and layout controls
Presentations should be visually appealing and easily digestible. Visual design principles can play an important role in the engagement level, digestibility and clarity of your slides and the content you’re presenting. Adobe XD provides several layout features that can make presentation design very simple.
To set up a basic column layout, the Layout grid can be enabled which will overlay a default column layout of 12 columns. Alternatively, use one of the available artboard guides or alignment and distribution options to create a clean and well balanced layout.
Adding motion to presentation transitions
Once your design slides are built, Adobe XD’s prototyping mode can be used to bring the slides to life. Simple transitions can be used to create subtle motion between design slides or you can make animated presentations with more robust transitions using Auto-Animate. Auto-Animate works by animating the properties and position of an element between two slides.
To use it, in presentation mode select Auto-Animate as the action in the property inspector. Ensure the layers or groups that you wish to animate are named identically on each slide so Auto-Animate understands what to animate.
Using opacity and position you can make presentations with moving text, motion between slides and design slides that appear to be static with individual elements moving.
If you’re like me, you may want to pre-record your presentation while walking through the design slides or prototype. Adobe XD makes this easy by including a built in way to record your presentation or prototype from the preview window (currently supported on MacOS).
When previewing your prototype, simply click the record button in the top right corner of the window. Clicking the drop down icon will reveal an option to enable the microphone, which will then record your voice as you narrate along with the prototype.
Pre-recording a presentation and distributing it in an asynchronous way (such as posting on a team wiki, Jira or posting in a Slack channel) is a helpful way of sharing the content for team members or clients to review on their own time, while still receiving the context and insights from you as the presenter, as static slides alone can sometimes be taken out of context.
Share as a presentation
The easiest way to start sharing your design slides is to generate a presentation link in Share mode. Adobe XD allows you to share your work in various formats depending on the audience that you’re sharing with. Rather than selecting a Design Review or Development link which are great for collecting feedback and handing off to development teams, you can select a Presentation link which will open your designs or slides, in a full screen view in the browser.
The Presentation plugin
Though Adobe XD has several great features for presentation design, plugins like the Presentation plugin from the Adobe International Design Team can take your design slides up a notch and provide more advanced presentation-specific features.
The Presentation plugin is part of the Modular suite of plugins and brings the power of presentation tools like PowerPoint and Keynote directly into Adobe XD. This makes it easier to not only create compelling presentations using existing design assets, but it provides gorgeous pre-built templates that can be themed with the click of a button.
To start using the Presentation plugin, download it from the Plugin panel.
Pick a theme
Start by picking a theme. The pre-built templates and elements in the Presentation plugin are connected so that if you start working with a particular theme and then decide it isn’t quite right, you can switch themes and all your slide layouts will transition over automatically. Of course, if you have modified illustrations or have added new customised layers, those won’t automatically be themed.
With the theme selected, a modal will appear allowing you to preview the template, colours included and then confirm by clicking Select theme. The plugin will then build the first slide and place it before any existing artboards that you have created.
With the first design slide selected, the Presentation plugin panel will now display all of the artboards of your design in series, like you might find in PowerPoint or Google slides. In the My Project tab, clicking any of the thumbnails will centre the viewport on that particular slide allowing you to quickly edit it. Clicking and dragging an artboard or slide up and down in this tab will reorder the artboards on canvas as well.
When it’s time to add a new slide to the presentation deck, clicking Slides will display a list of available templates in the selected theme. Clicking any of them will add them to the canvas. Some slide designs have different variations which can be accessed by clicking the chevron to the right of the template name.
If you want to ensure that your slides can be updated if the theme is changed, it is best to work within the existing elements on the slide or create new ones using the pre-made elements under the Elements tab. The Presentation plugin uses the naming of these elements to understand how to modify them between themes, so if theming is important, avoid modifying the layer names of template elements.
The elements section is great for when you’re either making adjustments to a template or creating customised layouts, but want to make use of the intelligent elements for when you switch between themes. Since the elements are connected into the theme framework, they will easily update when a new theme is applied.
Like other plugins in the Modular suite, the elements from the Presentations plugin can be used independently throughout your design if you wish to use them outside of a presentation application. Simply open the plugin and select an element to place it on canvas and it can be moved to any artboard.
Building better presentations
Whether you’re using Adobe XD’s built in features like Auto-Animate, recording with narration or presentation links or leveraging the powerful templates in the Presentation plugin, Adobe XD makes presentation design easier than ever and helps you to make presentations that are compelling.
Take your next design critique or client pitch to the next level by creating design slides in Adobe XD.