When Speaker John Boehner announced that a deal was reached last evening to raise the debt ceiling, he issued what’s being called a “PowerPoint document” to summarize the framework. (Microsoft PowerPoint)

Setting aside the merits of the content, I was struck by the truly awful design in a document describing such an important deal. I realize it was done hastily, but he’s the Speaker of the House! The pages hurt the eyes just to look at it! Here’s a slide from the 7-page document:

Boehner PowerPoint

Art direction thought process?

  • This is an important message: Make the headlines ALL-CAPS. Hmmm… not enough emphasis. Let’s also enclose the slide title in a box. That will tell people it’s extra, extra important.
  • Wait! The whole message is important. Make ALL the copy bold. Helvetica-Neue Bold. Everything.
  • Oh, there’s lots of important copy. Lots of words. We need to save space in order to jam all these important words on each slide. We’ll have to use a condensed typeface. Switch to Helvetica-Neue Condensed Bold.
  • Don’t forget, this is important!

The worst thing? It wasn’t even produced with Microsoft PowerPoint, an application not known for its design tools. It was produced on a Mac using Apple Keynote — the same thing Steve Jobs uses for his world-class presentations. Go figure.

Speaker Boehner Keynote on a Mac


Full presentation: http://www.speaker.gov/UploadedFiles/3-7-31-11-Debt-Framework-Boehner.pdf