Your slideshow’s little black dress

Have you noticed something lately? More and more presentations are using black as the dominant color in their opening slides. Is this a trend or a coincidence? It has us wondering…can the opening slide be your slideshow’s little black dress? Presentations Why Life Should Be A Video Game from Robert Barlow-Busch and Kill the QR Code by Abdulla Faraz opens with black then maintain the black background while adding large color photographs and white text.

Getting Effective Answers from Research Sessions continues a black background throughout the rest of its slideshow, also using white for the text content. And yet their earlier presentations, like App Publishing for Museums – iPhone, iPad and beyond do the opposite.

User experience designer Travis Isaacs opens with black, then abandons it in favor of full screen photographs in his presentation Keynote Kung-Fu: Black Belt.

Publicis Modem UK changes up their slideshow Google+ is here. What now? by opening with a black background, then switching to white background and black text.

It’s important to remember that your presentation’s opening slide will not only be viewed on a large projection screen or monitor, but also as a thumbnail any place it is embedded. This includes Facebook, Twitter, yours or someone else’s website and on LinkedIn.

Design tip: when creating your opening slide, try viewing it in a thumbnail size to check how it will appear on a variety of platforms.

Let us know your thoughts on design trends such as the use of black backgrounds mentioned here.

7 Responses to “Your slideshow’s little black dress”

  1. UlaPlosarek

    I find black background quite useful when giving a presentation on a projection screen in a room with some light [so the presentation is not that sharp and vivid as it is on the computer screen]. It makes the background “disappear” and the only thing shining bright from the screen is your message. Eye-catching really. :-)
    Though I agree with the remark to remember that “presentation’s opening slide will not only be viewed on a large projection screen or monitor, but also as a thumbnail any place it is embedded”.

  2. Dean

    It’s all about contrast. In a darkened room you got best results from a dark background and light text/graphics. But in a high ambient light environment, you want the opposite because while we can project white (light) we cannot ‘project’ black đŸ˜‰

    The analogy is like a cinema, or think of the old days (1970s and 80s) of slide projector presentations, the room lights would be turned off and the projector would whir awayy .. like this;
    If you had a white background in those days the brightness of the projector made the screen a glaring annoying white monster, your eyes squinted and you could not very well see the dark text and graphics. But in high ambient light we need the opposite.

    To once agin use an old school analogy; You may remember either at school or at work the old overhead projectors OHPs, which were used in almost full daylight. A clear plastic sheet was used with basic (usually black) graphics and text. When the lamp projected on a white screen, the clear over head transparency (OHT) made the screen white except where the black text was. Once again, contrast is king.

    Today we can do either. Why ? Because unlike their predecessors, modern LCD projectors are very (very) bright. We can project them in rooms with almost full ambient light. You can use either dark or light background and it will work. It is also these days generally frowned up on to darken the room for all sorts of reasons related to presentation technique and psychology such as not trying to put people to sleep, making eye contact, asking questions, not creating a passive ‘viewing’ experience like watching a movie, but more of a two-way conversation.