Note-taking made easier for everyone- redesigning OneNote

Note-taking made easier for everyone- redesigning OneNote

Today, we are excited to announce that we updated the design of OneNote for Windows 10, Mac, iOS, Android and OneNote Online. These design features, rolling out over the coming weeks, include three key areas of focus:
Enhanced usability for all
As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “We will focus on designing and building products that our customers love and that are accessible to everyone and built for each of us.” In this update, we focused on making OneNote more usable for those with disabilities—such as vision and mobility impairments. We interviewed hundreds of people and analyzed product telemetry to understand how to improve keyboard shortcuts and the screen reader experience. We’re excited to share a vastly improved user experience in these two areas.
Simplified navigation
We worked with users to learn how we could improve the navigation layout—especially for larger notebooks with more sections. Now, the navigation controls are all in one area on the left-hand side of the app. This allows users to easily switch between their notes and dramatically improves usability with assistive technologies. With the new consolidated and simplified design, screen readers can easily navigate through the app to help those with disabilities. In addition, content is front and center—helping students to focus and avoid distractions.

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Consistency across devices
Today, OneNote users often use a range of devices. Having a cohesive user experience across all screens makes it simple for users to jump from one device to the next. With this update, regardless of what device someone is using, the experience will be the same—allowing users to capture thoughts, jot down notes and get things done more quickly. This update is also exciting for schools, where device variety is increasingly common. Students will now be able to easily transition between their home and school devices, keeping them focused on their school work. Steve Sawczyn, a OneNote user with visual impairments emphasized the benefits, “I love that between devices it just works, so I can focus on taking notes and not logistics. This is truly awesome and empowering.”

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The new redesign for OneNote is rolling out for Windows 10, Mac, iOS, Android and OneNote Online over the coming weeks. Check out our help article for support and to learn more about the specifics of OneNote’s update.

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Becoming pitch perfect with PowerPoint

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Becoming pitch perfect with PowerPoint

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Pitching ideas isn’t nearly as nerve-wracking when you’ve got a powerful presentation to share. We recently spoke about presenting with Jon Hammond, chief strategy officer for Galvanized Media, the company responsible for the New York Times best-selling books “Eat This, Not That!,” “Zero Belly Diet” and “Best Life.”
Jon has a hand in everything—from marketing his company’s products and brands, to public relations, to looking for new partnerships and opportunities—so we wanted to get his expert advice on what he thought was the best starting point for creating great presentations.
Jon’s advice: Start with your audience, not your idea.
Jon says, “It starts with recognizing what our partners or our potential clients’ challenges are. So we like to get that out front in an outline—getting to the story about how our skill sets and our expertise can help achieve their goals and conquer their challenges. We want to make sure there’s a good story arc there—a very clear beginning, middle and end. And the end gets you to the desired location. It gets all parties on the same page.” Recently, Jon and his team created a general presentation for their well-known brand “Eat This, Not That!”
“We’re assertively trying to attract new partners and realized we want to tell our own story a little bit better. So we created a general presentation—a resource that can be used internally as new people join the team, a tool that can tell them what “Eat This, Not That!” is now, but also something that is modular—something that can easily be adapted or updated by colleagues for a client’s specific needs.”
“We’re taking pieces from our general presentation that are most relevant and adding to them—building client-specific slides that might be needed, just outlining concepts, ideas, underlining the challenges and putting in infographics or video.”
Jon worked with his team to put together something that combines great photography and typography with their vision for the future of the brand. Because it’s in PowerPoint, he felt it could easily be updated by colleagues for a client’s specific needs.

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“Since the core creative work has been done, it becomes a utility that is much more nimble than anything else we could be using.”
When thinking about the most powerful visuals to use for his pitches, Jon says it really depends on the client.
“One thing we use is a very clear, bright, energetic kind of lifestyle imagery. Even though we might be talking about food or nutrition, it’s not just about shots of vegetables. It’s about underscoring how using our content allows you to live an active lifestyle.”

Key to a pitch perfect presentation

So what makes a presentation great? For Jon, the answer is it must be succinct. “By that I mean pace,” he says. “Succinct to me doesn’t have to mean short—but if the pace is brisk enough then it will feel succinct. It will feel like you’re getting to the point. What’s most important to me is not just arriving to the point, but making sure that the audience arrives there at the exact moment I arrive there. It’s about making sure that it’s succinct enough that everyone is following along as they should, and as engaged as they should be. That collective realization at the end.”

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One of his favorite PowerPoint features is the ability to embed video in a presentation slide. “We realized that PowerPoint is the easiest way to do that,” he says.
We were eager to get his take on some of PowerPoint’s newest features, including PowerPoint Designer, Morph and Zoom, available exclusively with Office 365.
PowerPoint Designer (exclusive to Office 365) automatically gives you layout and design suggestions when you add a graphic to a slide. Jon agrees Designer is a great time-saver for people who don’t have a design background.
PowerPoint Morph (exclusive to Office 365) adds fluid, video-like animated transitions within slides.
“With Morph, you can go to a slide, move the image and the text out of the way and drag and drop—there’s nothing easier.
“I can also see it moreso in some of my presentations for new business, to bring a dynamic view for what we’ve done, especially in ways to show growth on our side, such as how we have scaled the business and the website. It’s an interesting concept to animate some of that. Moving through a chart or a graph or a series of images brings that dynamic nature to a static image. It’ll have a lot of impact.”
According to Jon, if there’s an opportunity to take a static image and make it dynamic, it’s a great opportunity to add interest to the piece.
Zoom (exclusive to Office 365), gives your presentation more action by letting you zoom in on things you want to emphasize on a slide, or move from one section to another. “Any time you can use a tool to break that monotony is an advantage,” he says.

Innovative ways to use Microsoft products

We’re always curious to see how people use Microsoft products in unconventional ways (or at least ways we hadn’t thought of first).
Jon’s no exception to being able to think creatively outside the box.
“I have used it as a catch and capture tool for the early stages of our company, when we were working on strategic vision things. I have used PPT as a “catch-all” for various ideas. I could group the slides in certain categories, and from there I could throw links directly into PowerPoint, so everything could be hyperlinked, and I could easily pull up the slide that dealt with marketing, or the slide that dealt with content, and dive into those ideas.”
As to future projects and potential partners for Galvanized Media, Jon’s looking forward to 2017.
“Being able to take out our core presentation and adapt that to show these partners how our goals are aligned and how our resources help fill a void that they have—that’s incredibly important. If I use PowerPoint a few times a month now, I’m hoping that is ramping up to a couple of times per week.”
Even though he’s been using it for years, Jon still marvels at how universally regarded PowerPoint is.
“I’ve never walked into a conference room and had it not work or have nobody understand it. By removing that learning curve, it helps speed our pace of business.”
Many thanks to Jon Hammond for sharing his thoughts on creating an impactful, effective presentation.

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Discovery Communications embraces Office 365 to foster creative culture of innovation

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Discovery Communications embraces Office 365 to foster creative culture of innovation

Change is a constant in today’s business and media landscape, but that does not make it any easier, especially when it comes to technology. However, having a company and workforce hungry for the best new solutions brings great opportunity. Our leadership and employees understand that embracing new technology can, and should, result in greater productivity, flexibility and, ultimately, a happier, more successful culture. At Discovery Communications, our teams produce content for some of the most recognizable and beloved brands, have made crab fisherman icons with “Deadliest Catch,” and have established one of the most beloved (yet unofficial) U.S. holidays, “Shark Week.”
Our 7,000 employees around the world have high expectations of their technology tools. At the same time, our Global Technology and Operations team works tirelessly to deliver innovations that support employee creativity and the company’s open, collaborative work environment—without exposing us to risk. By enabling employees to securely share ideas and work closely together, we not only sharpen the company’s focus on bringing compelling content to the screen but also increase operational efficiency.
A few years ago, Discovery moved from on-premises systems to Microsoft Office 365. With our eyes on flexible solutions that would grow with our global business, we wanted to stop supporting non-differentiated services that involve a lot of heavy lifting for our team. More importantly, shifting to cloud-based services makes it possible to give employees capabilities that are always available and that include the latest features and enhancements. Office 365 puts a lot of the power into employees’ hands to control their own environment. We looked at several offerings, but the Office suite provides a universal language for business around the globe, and it made sense to stay in a world where our employees were already productive.
We have had remarkable success in migrating to Microsoft Exchange Online, moving our intranet to Microsoft SharePoint Online and adding Yammer as our enterprise social network. At the same time, we have taken full advantage of built-in features like Exchange Online Protection and archiving capabilities. So it was only natural to be interested in adopting the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite and the latest Office 365 offering—the E5 suite.
Honestly, if I look at the decision to move to Office 365 E5 licenses from a strictly financial standpoint, it’s worth it just for Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Advanced eDiscovery alone. Anyone who has to deal with today’s sophisticated information security threats understands that ATP is a must-have. We have to make sure we protect our programming content, employees and production partners, so the enhanced security components in E5 were a key factor in our decision to move forward.
In order to best serve our Legal team, Discovery is implementing Advanced eDiscovery for litigation and data requests—allowing them to search more effectively across mail and content repositories, to see results in a more dynamic way and to better manage their daily work. Advanced eDiscovery has a much more natural search language and a more approachable interface for our attorneys and the ability to see search results in a more dynamic way. Using it will save a lot of time and help to produce more accurate, relevant and comprehensive results.
Gaining Microsoft Power BI played a major role in our decision, as well. With Power BI, we will be able to further democratize business intelligence and analytics for all our employees. While storytelling and compelling content are at the center of what we do, our business is grounded in understanding our audiences through research and data. We now have a powerful cloud offering that plugs into the familiar Office suite. A cloud-based platform like Power BI allows us to share key data insights more effectively than passing spreadsheets or sending PDFs, while also facilitating the organization, analysis and visualization of data however it is most meaningful to each employee.
Telephony represents another area where the E5 licenses will help us achieve both efficiencies and cost savings. We currently have an on-premises Skype for Business environment, configured as a hybrid with the cloud, and we plan to move entirely to the cloud in the next few years. We’re running pilot tests of Skype for Business Cloud PBX, and we love how we’re able to mix and match Cloud PBX hybrid configurations with PSTN Calling plans. We have offices in dozens of countries—in some markets, it makes sense for us to use a local carrier, while in others it’s more cost-effective to pay per user. With the advanced Skype for Business features, we gain the flexibility to tap into both models and give employees high-quality communications services in a way that’s fiscally smart.
Even before we adopted the E5 suite, we knew using Office 365 helped us transform how we do business. We’ve brought colleagues closer together and made it easier to collaborate with our numerous outside production partners. We’ve exceeded employee expectations of a mobile, modern technology environment. And we’re looking forward to using E5 functionality to continue to build on our foundation of real-time communications and team collaboration increasing our global workforce’s ability to capture audiences with breakthrough content.

 

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