Today PowerPoint alternative Prezi debuted a redesigned version of its platform, which lets people create non-linear presentations outside of the typical slide-based format. Prezi’s growth since launching in 2009 has been impressive – its tool is now used by 75 percent of the Fortune 100, with a million new users a month and 15 million users in total.
Today’s website redesign and revamped user experience reflect a focus on its enterprise customer base, and helping them get over the learning curve of creating a Prezi from a blank canvas. For users used to PowerPoint’s sequential approach to presentations, being presented with non-linear whitespace can seem foreign. To help people create something from nothing the company worked with artists and designers to introduce over 40 new presentation templates to help users who don’t want to start from scratch, with 48 templates available in total.
Peter Arvai, Prezi’s CEO, said in an interview that the redesign was motivated by the fact that Prezi has been widely adopted, and they’ve taken the best practices from the community and applied it to making a streamlined tool. ”The growth has exceeded all of our expectations,” Arvai said. “The reason that we’re doing that is we’re seeing that Prezi is becoming a mainstream tool…the truth is, we have learned a whole lot about what makes a good Prezi and how people use it.”
The company also redesigned the presentation creation tool, replacing the distinctive bubble menu with a more PowerPoint-like interface, showing different levels of a presentation as thumbnails along the left-hand side, and all the creation tools across the top.
“We see that Prezi is definitely being adopted by a mainstream audience, and while we really had fun with our bubble menu, but we think that it in itself doesn’t create a great amount of value, and if we can make it easier for people to learn Prezi quicker by simplifying the UI like this then we’ll do it,” he said, adding that their “virtual whiteboard” will still set them apart from other presentation tools.
Other new features introduced this year include 3D Prezis and other animation tools and a PowerPoint import tool. And though they have an iPad app, Arvai said they want to make it easier for Prezis to work cross-platform. Though it has a large enterprise customer base, Arvai said they’re still focused on both the average user and professional users, with free basic accounts and pro accounts (with the ability to create private Prezis) available starting at under $5 per month.
A variety of companies are trying to rethink the PowerPoint presentation, from iPad-centric tools like Haiku Deck to Prezi’s new take on the slide-based presentation, not to mention tools like Alpha Slides that are trying to take presentations mobile. Arvai reports that a Prezi presentation is created every second, so while the redesign wasn’t necessary to scale users and adoption, it will likely help get those used to PowerPoint over the initial learning curve when creating their first Prezi.