Reviewed December 2014
Erin Miller, Electronic Resources Librarian
University of North Texas

First released in 2012 as an iPad app, Haiku Deck has been called the “Instagram of pitch decks” by Mashable and promoted as a new-and-improved alternative to PowerPoint.HaikuDeck 02 2014 05 dec Most recently, Haiku Deck was chosen by GeekWire as one of the Seattle 10, a recognition given to the top ten start-up companies in that geographic region. While originally designed to emphasize mobility and usability on an iPad, a browser-based online version was released in ­­­2013. The iPhone version was released in February 2014.

One might be led to wonder why the world needs Haiku Deck since PowerPoint and similar slideshow software programs —like Prezi—already exist. Haiku Deck’s most appealing feature may come as a surprise. Rather than offering a plethora of new capabilities for the user, Haiku Deck presents fewer options. The free version of Haiku Deck provides only six templates, with only a few more available for purchase, and has strict formatting and content limitations. The idea is to limit a user’s ability to add an overwhelming amount of text, animations, and formatting. Thus, the resulting presentation is more streamlined and the likelihood that an audience will suffer from what Edward Tufte famously outlined in his seminal analysis “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint” is decreased.

In comparison to PowerPoint and Prezi, Haiku Deck is extremely intuitive and easy to use. HaikuDeck 03 2014 05 decChanging backgrounds, adding text, and uploading or selecting images is done simply by clicking or touching the icons on the left side of the window and following prompts. The drag-and-drop process of building a chart makes incorporating data very intuitive. For users who are unfamiliar with touchscreen interaction, linking to the Help pages brings up a clear illustration of each icon and shows how it functions. There are additional guidelines available containing suggestions on using Haiku Deck creatively and effectively. They are clearly arranged and easy to follow.

One of the most valuable features of Haiku Deck is its readily accessible library of more than 35 million Creative Commons-licensed images. Entering a few lines of text brings up suggested images to use as backgrounds or illustrations. When exporting a Haiku Deck presentation to another platform, the licensing information associated with each image travels with it. Sharing a presentation—also known as a Deck—is also intuitive and easily done by using the ‘share to the web’ icon to post to social media, send by email or add to a blog. A presentation can also be uploaded to SlideShare—a website for sharing slideshows online—or even created directly within the SlideShare site. Finally, unlike many free applications, Haiku Deck does not contain distracting or annoying advertisements; users choosing to make purchases within the app can select premium images and additional templates at an additional cost.

Haiku Deck is not perfect. As of the publication of this review, it is unavailable on Android and Windows mobile devices. Because the browser-based version requires connectivity, users must plan accordingly. One cannot edit a Deck using an iPhone and currently the app only lets one move through slides during a presentation. Exporting from an iPad can be problematic if a Deck is too large to email, depending on the limitations of your email account. There is no audio option so it’s a good thing that it is easy to turn a Haiku Deck into a PowerPoint slideshow in which audio can then be added. Despite this being a mobile and web-based app, collaboration is not yet as feasible as it should be.

Despite these shortcomings, Haiku Deck is a great option for creating streamlined and attractive presentations on mobile devices—as long as they are Apple devices—or on the web. Planned future updates will make Haiku Deck even more user friendly and versatile. Because it was designed to emphasize the value of creating visually appealing slideshows, Haiku Deck  is especially well-suited for presentations focused on art, design, and marketing.