Startup Haiku Deck is taking a stab at changing an elemental component of business that’s experienced very little in the way of innovation over the past couple of decades: the presentation. While other recent entrants are trying to change the tried-and-trusted slide deck popularized by programs like Microsoft’s PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote by turning to a different paradigm altogether, like Prezi, Haiku Deck is going the other way, and taking the presentation back to basics in order to better satisfy the needs of 90 percent of those who use them.
Haiku Deck is an iPad app, one that makes it easy to create a presentation in minutes, using commonly-accepted best practices that, in founder Adam Tratt’s words, make it “impossible to end up with a bad-looking presentation.” That means keeping features to a minimum; users can basically choose a theme with a built-in font set, and customize text and select a single image as a full-bleed background. In a nice twist, images can be either uploaded from a user’s device, or found via an in-app creative commons license picture search, to help people get around the usual habit of Googling something and using results that aren’t necessarily even legal to use.
“There has been some innovation around presentations in the past 20 years, but the innovation we’ve seen mostly makes it more complicated, not less complicated to create a deck,” Tratt explained in an interview. “And the fundamental problem remains for most people, if you have to use PowerPoint or Keynote, we’ve yet to meet a customer who actually loves those products, they view it as a kind of necessary evil. So we thought there’s a huge opportunity to make something that people will love.”
Tratt says that Haiku Deck is designed to solve the two problems he and his team believe are the biggest ones for anyone creating a presentation: coming up with a good-looking product, and finding the necessary visual assets to make it complete. The image search mentioned above handles that, and limited choice in terms of text placement (and how much users can actually put on any given slide), as well as fixed font choices and just the right amount of drop shadow make for a final product that should never look overly busy and will appeal to a broad range of aesthetic tastes. It’s a similar approach to the one taken by Over, the iPhone app designed around adding text to images.
Despite the design aimed at keeping things simple, Haiku Deck plans to add new features, including possibly a way to add voice to decks as a kind of guided commentary so that presentations can be saved and shared in full, instead of just the visual assets. As it stands, Haiku Decks can already be easily shared once completed, on social networks and via email, but presenters would have to do a live call if they wanted to walk someone through one.
Maybe best of all, Haiku Deck is free, so it’s easy enough for anyone to get on board so they can see if it provides what they need out of a presentation tool but without the added complications of a PowerPoint. Tratt says he wants to keep the basic features free, but explore other revenue options.
“We added [in-app purchases] just as an initial way to monetize,” he said. “The other things we’re looking at are premium photography [...], and then the third way would be to have a level of premium features. We want to make storytelling a much richer experience for both the author and the viewer, so we’re looking at what sort of analytics and other features can we offer that will make the experience of creating a discussion between you and your audience much more interesting.”
The app is iPad-only right now, since in early testing with an iPhone version users said they didn’t really want to make presentations on such a small screen. Still, Tratt says future additional platforms are definitely a possibility, including desktop and Android versions.