Katya Kovalenko is a Barcelona-based Presentation & Data Designer with a background in advertising and communication. She is also the author of several courses on Presentation Design for the popular now online platform Domestika. She was also one of the speakers at the Present to Succeed 2021 conference.

In this episode, we talk about presentation design, data visualization, the basic design principles, how less is more, do you need to be a designer to build beautiful and effective slides and the tools and resources for brainstorming and designing.

Do you need to be a designer to build beautiful and effective slides

Katya shares with us that what she sees in her courses is the diversity of her students – from university students, teachers, and scientists to military and priests.

In her opinion, from all the areas of graphic design, presentations are the only one available to everyone because you do not need any fancy software. The only thing you need to learn is the basic principles of design.

The basic design principles

She states that the main principles to learn applied to presentation design are fonts and typography, colors, and composition principles, aka layout.

She says typography is not just about the fonts but about the principles like contrast, not mixing too many fonts, and good composition or layout.

Simplicity is key in presentation design, and therefore it is easy to create a beautiful impactful presentation with less.

The work should happen way before you open any tools

Katya says that the tool does not matter. People start to improvise when they see the empty slide, which is tricky if they do not know what they are doing from the start.

Every decision needs to have a why and you have to prepare beforehand, so you know what to do when you open the new document.

So, how do you achieve simplicity

Simplify what is already there. First, narrow down everything to just one phrase. Go with the most important thing first and then complete it with only what is important.

Katya tells us that people who do not have a lot of confidence in their design skills tend to decorate slides with extra things just to look beautiful. But as she quotes:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What about DataViz

With data visualization in presentation design, the goal is to communicate only what is important. With graphic charts, Katya says that there is the danger of overloading with lots of elements. People struggle with having a natural filter, and it has to do with the ability to focus and extract insights. 

If you add a chart to a slide, maybe you do not need to put all the numbers. Maybe, you need just one number, which is what you want to communicate. 

It can get overwhelming with too many elements,” Katya says. Extract the message first, and if you need the details – send the data separately if it needs to be complex. 

People think that if they go with that simple chart design or push one number, the audience will think that they have not done enough. Or if it looks way too simple that it will look like they have not spent enough time working on it. Yet people on the other side never think that – it is your fear of underdoing. The audience appreciates visual simplicity. 

Тools & resources for brainstorming and designing

For images, Katya recommends Unsplash. With registration, you can even create your collections there so you can check if the style and the colors match.

The tool she uses for icons is called Streamline – a huge library of icons. It is very intuitive and easy to use.

For fonts or typography, she refers to Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts. She suggests simple typography unless the style requires something very special and custom.

For colors, she explores different premade color harmonies and experiments with them in Adobe Color and Color Hunt. She says that with the colors you should know what you are doing beforehand to create the desired impact.


Check out Katya Kovalenko’s courses on Domestika, her website, Behance or Dribbble. You can contact her on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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