Creating stunning (and bullet-proof) presentations with Freeway

create stunning presentations with Freeway!As well as creating great looking web sites, Freeway is a perfect tool to create stunning presentations. The benefits of creating an HTML based presentation are enormous. For a start, the presentation is lightweight and can be viewed on any web browser either on-line or distributed on a CD-ROM. In addition to this you will have greater freedom to lay out your 'slides' in Freeway than working in a restrictive environment like Powerpoint or Keynote. Lastly, and possibly more importantly, it allows you to showcase your web sites and site building skills without having to resort to static images or movie captures. Designing for the web is what you do, so it makes sense to make use of those skills when putting your presentations together.

Sizing it all up

If you are planning on giving the presentation yourself then you may decide to do away with any navigation and just click your way through the 'slides' as you go from page to page. However, if you later decide to add the presentation to your web site or distribute it on a CD-ROM or DVD (see below) then you will certainly need some form of navigation. Keep it simple. Make sure that viewers can travel smoothly a linear route through your presentation as well as be able to refer back to relevant slides without losing the flow of ideas.

Note: unlike web sites, your presentations are going to be viewed at a distance so consider what is called the '10 foot user interface' where the primary elements of your page design will be bigger and easily seen from a distance. Don't forget to make text as readable as possible by selecting appropriate sizes and consistent fonts.

Mark of the Web

If you plan to distribute your presentation or present it using Internet Explorer on the PC then you'll need to add a small piece of code that will stop the browser complaining about any scripts that the pages contain. To cut a very long story short, the browser uses something called security zones to define how much access a web page has to information on the local machine. Most web pages that contain scripts when viewed locally will cause cause IE to throw up an alert warning the user that the page contains a script and to proceed with caution. Obviously you don't want viewers of your presentation to see these warnings so we add what is called a Mark of the Web that tells IE to treat the page as if it were hosted on a web server. You can download the Mark of the Web action from ActionsForge and apply it to your site folder to have it apply itself to all of the pages in your presentation.

Delivering your presentation

Once your presentation design and layout is complete you'll need to think about how to best deliver it to your audience. Although a Freeway created presentation will run in any web browser you'll almost certainly want to eliminate any distractions like the browser window itself or any desktop clutter on your computer. Unlike most Windows-based browsers which support full screen browsing by default (pressing F-11 in Internet Explorer for example will toggle between normal and full screen mode) only a couple of Mac browsers support this feature. The Safari plug-in Glims includes a full screen mode (Full Screen from the Safari menu) which will hide all of the browser frame (called chrome). Sadly, the browser still displays a tab for the current page regardless of if tabs are enabled or not. �Plainview is a web browser specifically made for presentations. Based on the same WebKit rendering engine as Safari (above) this lightweight browser doesn't have some of the whistles and bells of it's older sibling but it is ideally crafted to deliver your HTML based presentations without fuss and in a clean and uncluttered environment.

Distributing your presentation on a CD-ROM or DVD

Consider burning your final presentation site folder to a CD-ROM and distributing this to your viewers for them to watch at a later date. Simply double-click on the home page icon (index.html) on the CD-ROM and the user's default web browser and start the presentation. If you want to automate the process for Windows users, you can create an auto-run file that will automatically open the presentation when the CD-ROM is inserted. The simplest way to do this is to use the CD Autorun page action available from ActionsForge.

Other considerations

Keep it simple, less is more; each slide should address just one idea or concept. Make sure facts, figures and graphs are clear and easily digestible. You will be able to add animations, sound and timed-delayed functions to your presentation; consider how they will help/hinder communication.

If you are doing the presentation yourself, how will you trigger page transitions: a remote "clicker" or a keystroke. Again, a well-planned navigation and flexible will be useful.

You may want to supply a printed version for your viewers as an aide memoire; either by including a version with a separate print stylesheet, or perhaps a PDF.

Above all, remember your goal is to communicate a message. Test your presentation before the big day on colleagues, the wife or your dog.

Enjoy. Your presentations are now free from the constraints of platform, browser type or operating systems.
To get you started a sample Freeway 5 Pro presentation document is available below for download.