Nowadays, there are so many PowerPoint alternatives that folks often wonder what’s the difference between one presentation software and the next. Prezi, Visme, Beautiful.ai, Google Slides, and plenty of other cloud-based options each carry their pros and their cons. Then there are the desktop applications like Microsoft PowerPoint for Windows and Apple Keynote for Mac. But with all these choices, which one is the best presentation tool for you?
Note: if you're looking for a complete list of powerpoint alternatives, including free presentation software you can download as well as online presentation tools, check out this post.
We know why we love Beautiful.ai (pardon us if we’re somewhat partial), but for the sake of objectivity, we’re battling it out with some of our most fierce competitors in the presentation software market. We've taken on Visme, Prezi and even the presentation behemoth that is PowerPoint (surprise: we won!); comparing each feature side-by-side, publishing pricing for each, and listing all the additional functionality and widgets each offers.
Today’s battle? Beautiful.ai versus Canva.
Our worthy opponent launched with a bang in 2012, and has since raised more than $150 million in 10 rounds of funding. Canva boasts users can "Design anything. Publish anywhere." It offers a broad range of design tools, and users can not only use this free PowerPoint alternative to create presentations, but they also can design an array of graphics including greeting cards, posters, book covers, banners, memes and infographics.
If numbers say anything, people really dig Canva – by 2018 more than 10 million users across 179 nations created more than 100 million designs using the software. How did Canva achieve such exponential growth? Its developers focused on the user experience and created a platform that boosted their confidence in their creations.
“We needed to change their own self-belief about their design abilities, we needed to give them design needs and we needed to make them feel happy and confident clicking around,” Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins wrote. “We needed to get them to explore and play in Canva. No short order! So, we spent months perfecting the onboarding experience paying particular attention to users’ emotional journey.”
So, does Canva live up to the hype? Does the PowerPoint alternative actually make users happy to use it? Canva might offer templates for more types of graphics than Beautiful.ai, but is it a better presentation software tool?
We challenge this web-based software to a head-to-head battle – and we promise to avoid bias. Who do you think will come out on top?
Round #1: User Experience and Interface
Which presentation software is easier for users to learn and use?
Canva - As one of the easiest design platforms to use with its drag-and-drop creation, Canva offers a wide array of templates for not only presentations, but social media and web graphics, banners, greeting cards, animated videos, posters and more.
Templates can be fully customized by cropping and editing images, adding text, changing frames and other tools. And while the presentation design software features grids to ensure straight and balanced designs, it’s up to users to make the calls on what looks best where. So that could be seen as a negative, since non-designers are given enough freedom to create graphics that aren't in line with best practices.
An added bonus? Canva has an iphone, ipad and android app, so users can mock things up in real-time across a variety of smartphone and mobile devices.
Canva users can use the free PowerPoint alternative to create presentations, but slides must then be downloaded as static file types like JPG, PNG or PDF to later view as a slideshow (no PPT download), which come watermarked with the Canva logo unless you upgrade.
Beautiful.ai - Professional-quality slideshows are a cinch with Beautiful.ai’s built-in design best practices. Start by choosing a Design Theme, then either start from scratch by customizing each smart slide templates at a time, or download and edit a complete presentation template such as a Business Plan, Pitch Deck, or Sales Proposal. The secret sauce? Each smart slide in the presentation automatically adapts and adjusts as content is added, in accordance with the principles of good graphic design. This way, your presentation is sure to look professional.
The Beautiful.ai UX allows users to save tons of time and effort, as the tool automatically aligns boxes, edits fonts and applies the proper color scheme to each slide. The end results are slideshows that look like a professional designer built them, even if a beginner was behind the wheel. And the ease-of-use makes presentation creation enjoyable. (Yes, we said it.)
Round #2: Design
What sort of presentations are designed by the two presentation software tools, and how are they created?
Canva - The pre-designed slide and presentation templates are where Canva really shines. Dozens of options abound, from Annual Reports, to Company Overviews and Marketing Plans. All these pre-made presentation and individual slide templates are a great jumpstart for users that don't want to start from scratch. There are even more templates if users upgrade from the free version to a paid subscription, and they're all well-designed for the most part.
That being said, this free PowerPoint alternative lets users make all the design decisions when creating presentations. So any user with a lack of knowledge and skill can design a completely unbalanced, unprofessional presentation if they choose.
If using the complete, pre-designed slide decks and then customizing each slide in the presentation template individually is too tedious for some, OG designers can take it old-school and design their presentations from scratch. Canva allows a ton of flexibility either way.
Beautiful.ai - Rather than offering a wide variety of tools for different types of visual stories, Beautiful.ai focuses on being the best in its category. Users can design slide presentations from scratch with hundreds of customizable templates, or they can let the AI technology make the tough calls and use any of more than 50 smart templates, which automatically adapt using common principles of superior design.
Slides created with Beautiful.ai’s PowerPoint alternative software are guaranteed to be modern, cohesive and clean. The AI will even suggest ways to visualize your data and offer alternative templates to whichever you’ve selected.
Round #3: Special Effects
Can these free PowerPoint alternatives be animated to enhance audience engagement?
Canva - Slides created with Canva’s web-based software can be downloaded as either static files (JPG, PNG, PDF) or a MP4/GIF file. The MP4 format does include built-in slide transitions, but there's no real customization options for animated presentations, like zooming, wait-for-click timing or other fun widgets for interactive presentations.
Our biggest complaint? There is no "Present Mode" option at all in the free version of Canva. You literally cannot scroll through your slides unless you shell out cash. Which means, of course, that there are no animations on or between slides either, unless you upgrade. That’s not to say a savvy user couldn’t download as a PDF, then upload them to PowerPoint and manually add custom transitions, but that kind of defeats the purpose of using an alternative software, doesn't it? And seems like more work as opposed to less.
Beautiful.ai - It's been proven by brain studies that audiences engage more and retain more information when presentations are animated. And with Beautiful.ai, users can easily bring presentation designs to life by adding custom, animated transitions. Beautiful.ai’s smart templates come with basic built-in animated transitions between slides, which users can tweak to their preference by adjusting the timing and speed of each transition. Other specific smart templates, like fan favorite Word Cloud, feature customizable on-page animations, which only further draws viewers’ attention and retains their focus.
Round #4: Costs
What are the costs of using free PowerPoint alternatives to design presentations?
Canva - It’s free to create presentation designs with Canva, and users can even try out Canva Pro free for 30 days. With Pro, users access an assortment of extra features, including the ability to “magically” resize designs, set color palettes, save customized templates, download additional backgrounds and much more. To continue the upgrade after the first month, users can subscribe for $12.95 per team member per month.
Disclaimer: As previously mentioned, you cannot download a copy of your presentation without a watermark unless you pay to upgrade, nor can you present from the platform without paying per page or subscribing to the monthly Pro plan.
Of course, Canva doesn’t only offer slideshow creation with upgraded plans. For the same (or no) cost, users can build posters, social-media graphics, banner ads, greeting cards and more. It’s basically Design Central for marketing materials.
Beautiful.ai - The Basic plan is 100-percent free, and users can create as many as 100 slides with unlimited features and templates — all animations and some customizations included. For only $12 a month, advanced users can subscribe to Beautiful.ai’s Pro tier and create unlimited slides and presentations, with the ability to upload custom fonts, view revision history, view analytics and download the desktop player for offline viewing. Another "Team" plan is in the works as well, for more collaboration on business presentations.
While Canva offers quantity and diversity of marketing materials, we have to say Beautiful.ai is a greater quality software when it comes to presentations. Users looking for a tool that allows them to design a wider variety of graphics – including not only slideshow presentations but also posters, infographics, web graphics and greeting cards – will find what they’re looking for with Canva.
But as a presentation software, even Canva Pro (the upgraded plan, with additional features and functionality) can’t compare with Beautiful.ai’s smart templates and artificial intelligence that promise even the most amateur designers an end result even better than they could have imagined — with both the free or Pro plan. Sure, the Drag-and-Drop is a nice touch, as is the easy collaboration and export, but the fact that you can get all that and more with Beautiful.ai's Basic plan is a stronger argument.
But at the end of the day, you be the judge. Try them both and let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!