We are now at the end of August and the new academic year is just around the corner. Last week, we looked at the Benefits of MS Bookings. This week, we look at Sway, what it can do and some best practices.

What is Sway?

This is a Microsoft product which allows you to build presentations, communications, newsletters, portfolios and more for your audience. It’s quick and easy to use and looks very professional in a short amount of time.

Why choose Sway?

It’s interactive and an alternative to PowerPoint. Your audience needs to engage with the Sway content which will hold their attention for longer. Sway is responsive. It doesn’t matter if the Sway content is viewed on a computer, a tablet or smaller mobile device. The content will scale up or down to suit the device type it’s being viewed on.

Along with this, once you have the content added into Sway. If you don’t like the current design, then mix it up. Choose designs at any point of collating the information.

Have we mentioned that Sway can hold many media types? Text, images, video, audio, etc., and magically, you can create Sway from any of the devices you are signed in on.

How do I Sway?

Good question. We’ve included a Microsoft Sway here for you to view and interact with. It also tells you how to get started and shows options for ideas, layout and interactivity, etc.:

How To Sway
How to Sway Example Sway
Go to this Sway
Are there layouts to choose from?

Of course. You don’t need to have coding skills to get started. You can simply upload images, paste in text and choose from the available layouts. There is a choice of horizontal, vertical and Slideshow layouts.

Horizontal is great for storytelling, reading from left to right with horizontal scrolling. Vertical can be used for newsletters and general information, this is considered the ‘traditional’ website format with vertical scrolling. Whilst Slideshow is great for presentations with a slide by slide approach to sharing content.

What about aesthetics?

Microsoft offer up a number of inbuilt ‘styles’ to suit many needs. You can add your own colour palette and there’s a ‘remix’ option to allow you to mix it up. Styles can also be customized if the inbuilt options aren’t appropriate.

In days of the old internet, you could have text or an image on the page but it was quite hard to have text floating over an image. Sway allows for images to be stationary whilst text scrolls over the top. There is consideration needed here regards colour / contrast of text on the image.

Images on Sway can be shown in their entirety or in part. You don’t need to crop the image but you can specify how much / little you want to be shown on the page with the important part of the image being anchored in place.

Best practices
  • Consider accessibility:
    • Text size, colour and font
    • Colour and contrast
    • ALT text for visuals and other media
  • Plan your content in a logical sequence
  • Proof read your Sway before sharing

But what about the advantages and disadvantages of Sway?

What are the benefits of using Sway?

You can add in interactivity. Why not add a quiz or survey by MS Forms? Do you have social media channels? They can be added to your Sway, i.e., embed tweets. If you use Sway for storytelling, there’s the typical image gallery format but there’s also an image stack feature which feels as though you’re flicking through printed images more casually. If your Sway is more educational, there is an image comparison feature. This could be useful when comparing medical scans for example.

Rather importantly from a design viewpoint, is how might the Sway you create look on different devices and platforms? Microsoft give you the opportunity to view the look and feel of your creations for different devices and how the content scales up / down.

Of course, videos and GIF content can also be added to Sway to make it even more appealing.

There are more major benefits where Sway is concerned:

  • It’s quick and easy to use and share content
  • Sways can be created collaborating with others
  • Analytics are available if you’re interested in numbers
  • Use of Sway is free
  • It can handle many media types
  • Sway has an accessibility mode to help make content more accessible for all
  • Structured Word documents can be imported and Sway will automatically provide a text outline

As with advantages, there are disadvantages:

  • You need a Sway account
  • Sway content cannot be exported as a PDF for downloading content
  • It takes a little time to become familiar with Sway, it’s options and usability

We hope you find Sway a nice alternative to presenting information. Give it a go and see how it works for you.

Next time

In our next blog post, we will be looking at Microsoft Kaizala, what it is and what it could be used for. Join us then to learn more.

Remember, the DigiKnow blog posts are released at noon on a Monday.

Please do join us then to learn more and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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