Ahead offers an interface to create and edit non-linear visual presentations with high-resolution images and hosts your creations, which can then be embedded or shared. Its presentations are highly reminiscent of those created on Prezi and other similar services.
If you work with high-resolution images, you have the potential to create stunning presentations. Ahead supports a variety of file formats, including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files, as well as standards like JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. You can also include Microsoft office files, video, and sound into your presentation. Media can be placed in one of three layers (foreground, zoom, and background), and “scenes” (Ahead’s term for individual frames or slides) can be resized and brought in to high zoom levels. Of course, to work at higher zoom levels it’s best to start with a high-resolution image.
I should start off by saying that while I have some experience working with graphics programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, I’ve never worked with any of these post-Powerpoint presentation creation tools before. That said, I don’t know if my experience with Ahead is standard for these types of tools, but I imagine others like me may experience some of the same issues I did.
Inspired by the samples that are suggested on the dashboard screen, I set off trying to make my own presentation. The interface seems to be not all that intuitive for someone like me who’s not a professional graphic designer. There are limited options for typefaces, and no ability to annotate or mark up images on top of the presentation. While Ahead promotes seamless zooms, I found that I tended to have to wait for the image to load at a higher quality on the internet connection here at EdLab. I also kept running into issues with setting images on top of the background and zooming out, only to find that my images had shifted and the overall presentation looked strange. It feels like it’s more of a way to bring a single image to life than an easy way to create presentations.
The Ahead layout screen
Another major con is that while Ahead hosts your presentations for free (for free accounts), all the presentations you create are publicly viewable and the Ahead branding is always present. As a point of comparison, Prezi is also structured that way for most users. However, Prezi offers accounts specifically for teachers and students that allow for privacy controls and things like the insertion of an institutional logo in place of Prezi’s.
Visual presentations that aren’t Powerpoints are a welcome change of pace at conferences and in the classroom. While Powerpoint presentations are all too familiar, presentations made by platforms like Ahead can bring an element of excitement to a lecture or discussion, provided you’re willing to take on a steep learning curve. If you’re looking to change up the Powerpoint routine, but lack advanced graphics skills there are better tools for you out there.
Ahead has the potential to create stunning presentations, but its interface lacks user friendliness and has a tendency of being fussy. Educational users have better options.