Believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago that creating a digital presentation required the use of PowerPoint. In fact, the two were practically synonymous with each other. And of course, that meant plenty of ugly, cookie-cutter presentations using the same tired effects. Just the thought of them is enough to put you to sleep.
True; as Microsoft Office's presentation software got older, they did introduce some presentation templates, amusing widgets and plugins to address a few (of the thousands) of pain points associated with presentations. But even with the free templates and bells and whistles, Microsoft just couldn't keep up with the demand for better, free presentation software options. Sensing an opportunity in the market, a variety of startups started to rebel against the bad slide designs of the past decade or so; developing higher-tech PowerPoint alternatives for presentation design.
But even with the free templates and bells and whistles, Microsoft just couldn't keep up with the demand for better, free presentation software options.
One such presentation software company called Prezi launched in 2009, and claimed it would rid the world of bad PowerPoint presentations forever. But has it lived up to the hype? Does it deliver on everything it promises to do? And does it make the process of creating presentations less painful?
But most importantly, is Prezi a better presentation software tool than Beautiful.ai? To find out, we are challenging the free PowerPoint alternative (the Basic plan is free) — famous for its zooming functionality and over-the-top animations — to a duel. So, Prezi, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may the best presentation software win. And yes, we’ll try very hard to avoid bias.
ROUND #1: THE USER EXPERIENCE
Question: Which presentation software has a more intuitive user experience?
Some users find Prezi’s non-linear format to be easier to follow and understand. Instead of designing separate slides, Prezi allows users to create a presentation on a single large canvas, then zoom in and out for details and additional data. Granted, non-linear presentations have been known to cause motion sickness for some viewers. Prezi increases user experience with an easy-to-use, cloud-based interface that allows the viewing and editing of presentations from any device.
With Beautiful.ai, even non-designers can create professional-quality slideshows. The customizable smart templates automatically adapt using principles of great design. The "a.i" technology creates a user-friendly design experience and premium results. Since presenters can focus their time on adding content, instead of creating a cohesive design, this free PowerPoint alternative saves time and money.
ROUND #2: PRESENTATION DESIGN
Question: Which powerpoint alternative does a better job of helping users create a professional-looking presentation design?
As mentioned above, Prezi users can create non-linear presentations that do not follow the traditional slideshow format. While some users will find canvas presentations more intuitive, others might have a hard time re-training their minds to design the unusual presentation design format. Still, the nonlinear format allows presenters to show relationships between details rather than taking viewers on a chronological journey.
Prezi offers some great-looking templates to kickstart designs, but it does not feature A.I. technology that can help non-designers create presentation designs that follow professional design guidelines. Still, the drag-and-drop feature is cited as a top reason users enjoy using Prezi.
While users can create their slide presentations from scratch with Beautiful.ai, many prefer to choose from over 50 smart slides and customizable presentations in the template library — all of which adapt using principles of design as new content is added. There’s no longer a reason to waste time manually changing fonts, aligning text boxes or adding graphics and animations in your presentation design. Just be aware that the tool does limit where and how much content you can add to each slide, so for dedicated Microsoft PowerPoint users, it could require a learning curve.
ROUND #3: FEATURES
Question: Which option offers users the best features to make creating presentations easier and quicker?
Users can easily design presentation canvases with Prezi using its drag-and-drop functionality and pre-designed “block” templates that can be customized with data. Cloud-based software makes Prezi accessible from any device – including smartphones and tablets – and any location with an internet connection. Presentations easily can be shared and edited by entire teams, while they can be launched anywhere on or offline — but the email address you're wanting to collaborate with must already have a Prezi account before you invite them, which is kind of annoying.
This may be more of a general product benefit than a specific feature, but we can't stress how nice it is to have free access to more than 50 smart templates — all of which automatically adapt as content is added. Choose from a variety of popular presentation formats, including timelines, tables, line graphs, organizational charts, word clouds and many more — all free, with no strings attached (other than the 200-slide limit in the free Basic Plan). Plus, the cloud-based PowerPoint alternative makes collaboration as easy as pasting an email address in the "Share" field — no pre-approval or signup necessary. Presentations then can be viewed either from the cloud or by using Beautiful.ai’s downloadable desktop player. Users can also choose from a variety of export file formats, including JPGs, PDFs and PPT (for free, of course).
ROUND #4: ANIMATIONS
Question: What animation options do both powerpoint alternatives offer to enhance audience engagement?
This is where Prezi really shines, we must admit. Prezi users can enhance their audience’s experience by integrating animations into their presentation designs that are pretty impressive. The tool features an animation sidebar to help users add separate sets of animations – such as zoom and fade transitions – to different parts of a presentation, such as the overview, topics or subtopics. This has become a staple of Prezi presentations worldwide, and has also seen its share of controversy for causing motion sickness in some audience members.
Beautiful.ai automatically applies animated transitions between slides in Play Mode, starting with standard default settings for timing and cues. Users can choose to customize the control, timing and speed of each animation in a variety of ways, including Wait-For-Click, Slow-Medium-Fast transition speeds and even adding audio tracks. After all, engaged audiences not only absorb more of the information presented, but they also retain more of that data in the long term. Plus, animations are FUN! And if there's ever an opportunity to infuse some fun in your presentation, trust us: Do it.
ROUND #5: PRICE COMPARISON
Question: What is the cost to upgrade from free to paid for both powerpoint alternatives, and what additional features do you get?
The basic nuts and bolts of Prezi are free to use. Users can create, share and store presentations for online viewing at no cost. Designers can also choose to upgrade to Prezi Plus for as little as $19 a month – just $7 for students and teachers – and obtain additional access to control privacy settings, advanced presenter features and offline access.
Beautiful.ai's Basic plan is 100% free, and gives users up to 200 slides with no limits on features, templates, collaboration, export and more. For more advanced "presenters," a $12 subscription to Beautiful.ai Pro per month comes with unlimited slides and presentations, the ability to upload custom fonts, download the desktop player, view revision history, viewing analytics and many more additional features. Both free and paid users can export their presentation as PDF or powerpoint files.
So now you have it — we've done a side-by-side of the 5 most important categories to consider before committing to a new powerpoint alternative. So which one will you choose? Obviously, Prezi is a great option for skilled presenters that really want to "wow" their audiences with advanced zooming animations. Beautiful.ai is a great option for anyone looking for fast, simple, well-designed presentation software with more basic animations. Both are solid powerpoint alternatives, and we hope this comparison helped you make the best decision for your needs.