Ask five designers how they handle client design presentations and you’ll get five different answers. Some like to do their presentations in person, accompanying their designs with printouts detailing specific highlights. Others prefer utilizing an online screen sharing experience and talking their clients through their design in real time. And then there are those who simply ship off the jpgs in an email outlining the design’s main points. No matter what your method is for revealing your design, it is important to use tools and resources that can make your presentation successful. Without further ado, here’s a list of some of the best apps and tools for delivering the perfect client presentation.
Calls and Screen Sharing
It’s simple, easy, and free. Either join someone’s screen share or share your own. You can invite up to 250 viewers into your screen share and can even let them take control of your computer. Join.me has a great list of features, such as internet calling, chat, and file sharing, which makes it a great all-in-one solution for screen sharing presentations.
Skype has over 600 million users, so chances are high that even your client will have an account that he/she can hop on to at any time. Skype is a great way to have face-to-face conversations with clients when the option of meeting them in person is unavailable. In addition, if you need to chat with more than one person in a single call, Skype comes with conference call support so you can include as many people as you want in your presentation. Most importantly, Skype has a built-in screen sharing ability that allows you to switch from video to design comp with ease.
GotoMeeting is a familiar business go-to for conference calls and screen shares. You can attend meetings from your phone or your computer and utilize its convenient scheduling features to help better organize your meetings and presentations.
Google Video Chat
You probably already have your Gmail inbox open, so why not hop on a video or audio call with your clients within the same workspace? If you live in your Gmail inbox archives and frequently reference email exchanges and attachments in your workflow, Google Video is the perfect solution for communicating with your clients.
This is a frequently underrated communication tool that makes living our work lives on computers that much easier. Free up your hands by using your computer as your phone. Even if you miss a call, you can easily access it via Google voicemail or email transcription!
Presenting: Information Architecture and Prototypes
Axure is a powerful and robust flowcharting, wireframing, and prototyping tool for all of your IA and prototyping needs. Axure is easy to use and is packed with every sort of web tool imaginable for creating the web wireframe or prototype of your dreams. You can even utilize its dynamic panels and widgets (including user-created widgets) to make your prototypes interactive. And if you want to get even more complex with your prototypes, you can integrate APIs and data to make your prototypes work with remote data!
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, browser-based solution, Mockingbird is the way to go. If you’re working with a team, everyone can access and work on your wireframes together. Previewing and sharing your wireframes is easy, and since everything is online, you’ll avoid having to deal with more file organization and clutter. To make things even easier, Mockingbird has an intuitive UI, with simple drag-and-drop interactions, smart text resizing, and interactive page linking.
Omnigraffle is a great Mac solution for creating and presenting flowcharts, sitemaps, and wireframes. While it comes with a great span of tools to create your IA needs, it really shines with its “stencils” feature. For a fully customizable and personalized look, you can utilize Omnigraffle’s stencil or user-created libraries.
Want to create beautiful wireframes and prototypes? InVision is a simple and intuitive web application that allows you to take your design jpgs, pngs, or gifs and turn them into interactive prototypes within minutes. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to turn your flattened PSD images into dazzling working prototypes.
Photoshop full view mode and layer comps
Did you know you can utilize the different screen modes in Photoshop to view your PSD file? Photoshop’s Full Screen view hides everything but whatever is on your canvas and allows for easy toggling access back to the PSD in case you want to edit some nitty gritty elements of your file. Another great way to present designs is to use Photoshop layer comps. Layer comps allow you to save specific visibility, position, and layer styles for different versions or parts of your design. These layer comps are saved to your PSD so you can come back to them at any time.
Preview for Mac
If you’re using a Mac, Preview is a powerful default image viewer that allows for easy viewing of your jpgs, pngs, and pdfs. If you have Lion OS X installed, you can take preview one step further by taking advantage of the revamped Slideshow or Full Screen modes. These two modes have the same functions as Preview normally does, but they’re now packed with beautiful isolated presentation screens that allow you to swipe between multiple images in a subtle but showy sliding interaction.
Picasa Photo Viewer for PC
While Windows Picture and Fax viewer has some merit to its usability, a great image viewing app that you might want to consider installing on your PC is the Picasa Photo Viewer. It’s got a great interface for navigating through files, and its black overlay background makes viewing a single design (PSD or image file) both clean and easy.
For web-based projects, another interesting way to present a design is to drag your image file straight into your internet browser. This gives your clients the experience of seeing your design in its natural environment and helps capture a better overall impression of how the design will feel. Also, if you’re HTML/CSS savvy, you can make edits with the browser’s “Inspect element” screen to center and throw a background color behind your image. You’ll hardly be able to tell that the design isn’t live!
Feedback and Collaboration Tools
Notable app allows your clients to give feedback straight onto the designs themselves (image files only). What’s especially nice about Notable is that feedback is displayed as an overlayed highlight area that clearly indicates what parts of the design are being discussed. You can then have a threaded conversation on that feedback or even create your own notes on your design.
InVision was mentioned earlier for its wireframing and prototyping capabilities, but it also allows for collaborative feedback on these projects. So not only will you have beautiful IA and designs to show your client, you can also ask them make comments right on your InVision mockups.
Basecamp is one of the most popular project management systems on the web. Apart from its project management system, however, is its feedback environment for designs and PSDs. Since many of your clients will probably be familiar with Basecamp, having them provide their feedback within the app itself will be beneficial for both of you. This helps you keep your project organized, recorded, and easily accessible. If you’re looking for free alternatives that yield similar results, take a look at Freedcamp and Podio.
Free and popular, Google Docs is a great area for storing feedback on Word docs, Excel sheets, and many other document types. Google Docs has a particularly useful commenting system which allows for easy comment threading and discussion. Especially if your clients enjoy giving written feedback, consider taking advantage of this online resource.
About the Author:
Jessica Moon is both the blog editor and a UX/UI designer at digital-telepathy, a user experience design studio that specializes in creating products like SlideDeck, Hello Bar, and Impress. She has a passion for illustration and design, and enjoys blogging and sharing what she’s learned via Twitter and Google+.