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Idiot web designer

Using Microsoft PowerPoint to design websites

Idiot web designer

Using Microsoft PowerPoint to design websites

Don’t worry, I haven’t completely lost my mind. I’m not about to offer tips on how you can use Microsoft PowerPoint to design a website. Instead, I’m going to completely lose my rag over the fact that some people actually do this in the first place.

It’s worse than that – schoolchildren are actually taught to use PowerPoint for web design.

I can literally feel my blood racing now!

Let’s step back a bit first though. In fact, let’s step back over 20 years. When I was first learning web design, in the 1990s, I used PowerPoint (not for web design, that would be stupid) to make a presentation I turned into a CD-ROM. When I was attempting to raise finance for a film I wanted to make, and was heading to the Cannes Film Festival in 1999, I produced a PowerPoint presentation that used hyperlinks to navigate from slide to slide. This was saved down as a ‘presentation file’ and was burnt (the term we used back then) onto CDs as an installable CD-ROM. These CDs were then given out at the Cannes Film Festival.

It wasn’t strictly what PowerPoint was made for, but it did the job. Just about.

At the same time, I also produced a website for the film we were looking to make, using Macromedia (remember them?) Dreamweaver. I used Dreamweaver instead of PowerPoint, as this software was designed for editing HTML code and making websites.

Back then, there were no real smartphones as we know them today. In fact, the first iPhone was a good eight years away. Therefore, we didn’t need websites to be ‘responsive’ in the way they are now. Websites were often built using something called Tables, which was really only meant for displaying ‘tabular data’. They did make structuring a web design easy, although websites were very rigid.

Tables aren’t used anymore, but they were back then. However, do you know what wasn’t used back then? That’s right, PowerPoint. It was never used. Sure, it ‘can’ export slides as HTML code, and so can Photoshop, but just because something ‘can’ do something, it doesn’t mean you ‘should’ do it.

So, imagine my annoyance when I heard last year that my youngest son’s school was teaching web design as part of an IT class (web design being lumped in with IT is a whole other rant, so we’ll leave that particular irritant for now), and was showing pupils how to design websites in PowerPoint.

I thought he was winding me up. I mean, I have seen people use Microsoft Excel to design flyers for print so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Even so, I was both shocked and disappointed that children were being shown how to design websites using software that is not intended, and is no use, for designing websites. How is that going to help them? What possible use is that going to be for them as they progress to college, university and a possible career in web design?

If anyone emails in and tells me colleges and universities are using PowerPoint for web design, I think I’m going to need a new stress ball!

Let me be clear to anyone who might be reading this blog after Googling how to design websites using Microsoft PowerPoint… don’t. Do not do it.

For anyone who has been presented with web designs for their new website that were created using PowerPoint: I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I’m afraid your web designer doesn’t know what they’re doing.

For any teachers reading this, after Googling about designing websites with PowerPoint, please stop telling your pupils that this is a thing. It isn’t. You’re not helping them.

Let me sum up. PowerPoint isn’t, and never was, intended for designing websites. It shouldn’t be used for designing websites. It has no business being used for designing websites. There are a lot of things it can do, but web design is not one of them.

Instead, try using software such as Adobe Dreamweaver or even Notepad for editing code. Use image editing software such as Photoshop for designs and layouts. Now that websites are responsive and fluid, you can even use Illustrator; something I’ve always stayed away from due to the need for pixel accuracy in the past.

Do not, however, under any circumstances, use PowerPoint!

Darren Jamieson

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