Prototyping Apps with PowerPoint

Do you have an idea for a great new app? Need an app to improve a business process or solve a problem?
Where do you start?

In this article, we’ll show you how to use PowerPoint to create a prototype of an app.

Why PowerPoint?
PowerPoint has some great design tools that allow you to quickly build out a wireframe design, complete with clickable links and transitions, without needing to learn any new complicated design tools. You can quickly define your app idea and start getting some feedback, before you spend any money on development.
You can also use this prototype when talking to your dev team to get an accurate cost of development.

Step 1 – Plan your app
The first thing you’ll want to do is plan out your app, and the different screens and transitions it will have.
The simplest way is to draw it out as a user flow diagram, with states as the interface screens, and links between them corresponding to user interactions.

Here’s an example of a user flow diagram for an image sharing app:

You can use apps like OneNote or Sketchpad to draw it out.

Step 2 – Sketch the screens
The next step you want to take is to create rough sketches for each of the screens in your app. This will give you a high level direction for creating the prototype in PowerPoint. Don’t worry about putting too much detail in here just yet.

Step 3 – Prototype it
Now you want to move into PowerPoint and start creating your actual prototype.
You’ll want to create a slide for each screen in the app. For a great head start, we love to use Keynotopia‘s bundle of UI templates for PowerPoint.
Using PowerPoint, you can quickly add images, text, buttons etc. to build out the screen layouts for your app.

Step 4 – Hyperlink it
Now that you have the screens, we can add some functionality. To make the wireframe clickable, select an element on your slide, click the hyperlink icon in the Insert tab, and select the next slide in the user flow. By doing this, you can create a non-linear flow that simulates the interaction with elements on the screen.

Step 5 – Test It
PowerPoint provides a number of export formats, including PDF. PDF is a great option because it can be easily shared and tested on various platforms.
Another great option is to import the presentation into Keynote on your iPhone, as this allows portrait slide shows. Running the slideshow in portrait mode allows you to simulate it running as an actual app, which is great for testing.


About Stephen Fourie

I've been a professional software developer since 2004, and running GEM since 2010. I've developed software for many different industries including automotive, logistics, finance and entertainment. I'm the GM at GEM Custom Apps where we build custom web and mobile apps for businesses.I love my wife, my dog, cars and gadgets. And coffee! I'm an Ironman 70.3 finisher, beginner skateboarder, xbox gamer and digital nomad :)