Why I Use Keynote as a Design Tool

A couple of months ago, I created a product presentation in Keynote for a new brand and web app I designed. At one point, I decided to build portions of the software interface in Keynote to maximize presentation quality. By the end, I was using Keynote to execute fully refined visual designs and page layouts. Why? It was just easier. Since then, I’ve continued to use this powerful yet lightweight tool to create many artifacts, from storyboards and user scenarios to process flows and visual framework.

All-in-one Platform

As an early adopter of new design tools and software, I tend to use specific features of various apps. Then I find myself multi-tasking like crazy to benefit from all of them. Apps are often created to address a particular type of task. Rarely do I find one that can handle the majority of my project needs. Keynote simplifies my design life, makes things easier to catalog and organize chapters of my project.

Minimal Workspace

While designing, I am constantly trying to maintain the most minimally-distracting workspace I can. Apple has done a great job of managing multi-tasking. It allows the user to singularly focus on one task while working across various apps. I prefer the software I use to enable my ability to create and surprise me with intuition, rather than annoy and distract me with unnecessary clutter. Keynote takes this to another level, being minimally invasive to my workspace, while still leaving tools conveniently accessible.

Think Like a Designer

Because Keynote is fundamentally a presentation tool, it stages content beautifully. Thus, it requires an additional level of scrutiny before delivering artifacts to your clients. You don’t have to be a designer to think like one. With many resource libraries and templates available online, you can feel like a designer without the need to buy expensive software. I can share my design files with any Mac user (assuming they have purchased Keynote). This encourages collaboration and client participation throughout the project.

Intuitive Editing & Layer Management

With intuitive grouping and arrangement, I can move through object layers and re-position elements with ease. I no longer have to manually label, arrange, or group layers to feel like my project file is organized. There is no need to delete empty layers. Keynote automatically does this for you. Managing zoom levels helps me gain better precision when manipulating objects within complex groups.

Iterate Prototypes Faster

Keynote lets you navigate between individual and grouped slides quickly and increase your thumbnail size to scan through your page layouts. I am no longer afraid of creating iterations without the fear of my files piling up and growing out of control quickly. I use master slides to store repetitive page elements such as device framework (for smartphone and tablet apps) or website navigation and browser windows. You can quickly copy and paste styles between objects or content. When pasting objects on new slides, Keynote maintains their original coordinates.

Great for Designing Web Apps

I’ve drawn a conclusion that if you can’t create it in Keynote, you shouldn’t try to create it in CSS and HTML. Keynote supports my design style and process perfectly. The depth of my Photoshop use will vary between projects. But I can create my overall page layout and any CSS driven elements in Keynote (pulling vectors from Illustrator as needed). Keynote as a staging tool challenges me to create visual designs primarily based on what I can build in CSS. Responsive design and quality expectations (with growing retina support) are all details we should assume to address in any web-based project. In addition, Keynote supports retina display on my MacBook Pro. I find the experience of designing that much more desirable, with extra focus paid to detail and articulation of my thought process.

I am excited to continue to push this app to fulfill my design needs and explore other visual languages it will inspire me to create in the future.