Davo Sime is the CTO and co-founder of Design Toolbars, an Australia-based company that creates a PowerPoint add-in that provides one-click slide design tools.
Trenna Wall is the COO and co-founder of Design Toolbars.
Both Davo and Trenna worked in the London office of a large management consultancy company in the mid-1990s – one after another – so they didn’t get to meet until many years later. Then Davo joined Trenna and the Australia Graphics team in Sydney in 2011 and together, they created thousands of consulting slides over the next 6 years!
In this conversation, they talk about Design Toolbars.
Geetesh: Davo and Trenna, please tell us about what motivated you to create Design Toolbars? Is there a story behind the creation of this add-in that you can share?
Davo and Trenna: As the proverb goes Geetesh, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” We both did presentation work for a major management consultancy company for over 20+ years and like many others found that creating beautiful and functional slides in PowerPoint was often a real struggle. So we initially wrote the software for ourselves, to save us time in our day-to-day job.
And from that beginning, over four years ago, our one-click Design Toolbars were born.
Design Toolbars helped us solve the issues of design layout, consistency, and ease-of-use all within the Microsoft suite without the need for complicated Slide Masters – in fact, you only need to use the ‘Title Only’ layout, and Design Toolbars takes care of the rest. Design Toolbars is a super-simple, one-click solution to create your own client-ready slides in a fraction of the time it would normally take, and considers all the slide layout design features: placing formatted elements in a grid system across, and down, the page; white space; typography; color scheme and imagery.
Then as we relied more and more on Design Toolbars ourselves, we expanded its functionality with one-click slide enhancements such as automated Agenda slides, headers, footers, status stamps, conclusion arrows, callout speech bubbles, impact text, and percentage circles. We recently added one-click Charts and Tables which open up a whole range of new, useful features – things like adding bar totals, sorting, data comparison lines, data rows, and columns, and with tables, you can easily use properly formatted bullet-points, can paste data in from Excel or Word, and can add Harvey Balls.
As we moved further along our journey, we realized that Design Toolbars was not only indispensable to us, but that there was a massive demand from other PowerPoint users. It fits perfectly with what analysts and consultants need help with most when designing client-ready slides, but also gives all business professionals, academics, designers, students, and non-power users of PowerPoint an easy-to-use graphics tool that increases slide design productivity, saves time, and helps them make great-looking slides.
And in terms of rounding out our creation story, we still rely 100% on using Design Toolbars with every presentation we work on – so the initial need has become a long-term solution.
Geetesh: Please share some thoughts on the feedback you have received from early adopters of the Design Toolbars PowerPoint add-in, and has any of the feedback made it to the product as a feature?
Davo and Trenna: That’s a great question. The feedback has surpassed our expectations and we’re incredibly proud that we’ve incorporated so much into creating the latest version of Design Toolbars. We are on our second major release of our product, which now incorporates Charts and Tables features, many of which were suggestions from our user community. For example, our early adopters wanted to see a mekko chart, more half-page charts, and table features like formatted bullets, zebra stripes, and a way to optimize a table’s size. And so the Charts/Tables toolbar came to life!
Thanks to the community, we were also inspired to introduce a world-first – the Hekko chart, which is a horizontal mekko and ideal for illustrating market data-sets. Based on feedback, we are also working on a version for Mac users.
We definitely listen to our users and continue to use feedback to help create the best product we can and to design future one-click features that the community wants to see.
We both put our name and face to Design Toolbars, as we genuinely believe in it – it is powerful, and yet easy-to-use software that can help anyone create better slides faster.
Until mid-January, we have a full-featured free trial for Windows PC users on our website, Design Toolbars.