Case Study:


Office ’13 Signature Themes

New In-Box Themes designed to evolve Office's theme architecture for the 2013 release.


At a Glance

I helped to refine PowerPoint's design-facing fundamentals and contributed to the next evolution of the Office THMX architecture.

The Office applications had introduced an all-new theme architecture with Office 2007, taking their first steps toward a unified semantic architecture that could extend common document style settings into any of the Office applications. In Office: Mac 2008 and Office 2010, I'd pushed this new architecture to the limits – creating dozens of the most eye-catching In-Box themes and templates the Office applications had ever shipped. For the 2013 release, Microsoft wanted to build on this effort to completely reinvent PowerPoint's design image for a new era.

Working remotely with Microsoft's team, I researched customer attitudes toward PowerPoint and ways the In-Box theme designs played a role in influencing those attitudes. I designed the Ion theme as a prototype for a new, more-informed approach that spoke to my findings head-on – orienting the upcoming library toward a higher standard of design fundamentals and themes with a more expressive, cinematic edge.

I helped to develop a new standard for designer-driven Theme Variants, allowing authors to pivot between multiple tailored variations of a chosen theme at will, and developed fifteen additional themes for the Office 2013 launch library, further extending key theme styles into Word and Excel with custom Building Block and Template designs.

My Roles
User Research, UX & Design Research, Concepting & Ideation, Theme Architecture & Topology, Theme Design & Implementations
The 2013 Themes played a leading role in re-establishing PowerPoint's design-facing credibility, signifigantly raising the bar against the previous cycles' standards.
Preview of the original Ion Theme default variant in PowerPoint

A Wider, More Cinematic Experience

PowerPoint ’13 would be noticeably different, right from the start screen. An updated start experience would greet authors with an entirely new library of themes to choose from, all designed and optimized for widescreen/ HD as the new default format for PowerPoint presentations moving forward.

The new Start Screen expereince in PowerPoint 2013
Ion Theme - The Project Pilot
Organic Theme - The Tactile, Skeuomorphic Prototype
Celestial Theme - The Wow-Factor Candidate

Tailored Variation

The updated THMX format introduced new designer-driven Theme Variants, with multiple pre-styled variations built-in to every In-Box theme – allowing authors to choose their preferred combination of color, fonts or materials for any of the new themes right from the start.

Organic Theme - Default Variant, Title slide on a Surface Pro 1
Organic Textures - Default Organic Textures - Variant 1 Organic Textures - Variant 2 Organic Textures - Variant 3
Organic Theme - Variant 1, SD Format
Organic Theme - Variant 3, Title and Caption slide

Expanded Layouts

New layout styles, including Quotations, Multi-column setups, and Assertion/ Evidence masters like True or False offered authors all-new ways of visualizing their content in select theme styles.

Berlin Theme - Default Variant, Title and Caption slide on a Surface Pro 1
Berlin Theme - Default Variant, Multi-Column Slides in SD Format
Berlin Theme - Default Variant, Quote with Caption slide

Mixed Modalities

The Ion pilot included unique Venue Modality options, allowing authors to pivot between the Auditorium-oriented cinematic base theme and a hybrid Boardroom modality better-suited for charts, tables and dense content slides.

Ion Boardroom Theme - Default Variant, Title slide on a Surface Pro 1
Ion Boardroom Theme - Default Variant, Mixed Slides in SD Format
Ion Boardroom Theme - Default Variant, Quote with Caption slide