Tools and Resources for Remarkable Explanations

Sometimes, words are not enough.  To grab an audience’s attention and make an explanation remarkable, explainers need ways to stand-out, to be interesting.

Thankfully there are a growing number of resources that can help explainers turn their ideas into experiences that captivate audiences. I've listed a few below. (Note: I am not affiliated with the services below and receive no compensation from them).
While you're thinking about these resources, consider this... These tools are helpful and can truly make a difference.  But they must be built on you and your ideas. A truly remarkable explanation cannot depend on software alone.  I hope that you'll see the potential to apply the lessons from The Art of Explanation to whatever software or platform you use.

Dan Roam’s Napkin Academy

Dan Roam is known for a series of books that focus on the use of simple drawings to understand and solve problems.  His book Back of the Napkin is an international bestseller and now he offers his know-how via a series of videos, what he calls The Napkin Academy. If you’re interested in learning how to solve problems and relate explanations with simple drawings, consider membership. 

Duarte’s Diagrammer

Nancy Duarte and her company, Duarte Design, is known around the world for designing amazing and effective presentations.  Her books Resonate and Slide:ology have set the standard for presentation design and content and have influenced me directly.  
Design is one of Duarte’s core skills and the company recently created a new "visualization system" that gives anyone the ability to browse, purchase and download awesome looking graphs and diagrams for US$0.99 a piece.  The files are delivered in Power-Point and can be customized. The selection is huge. 
The big idea of Powtoon is to make the process of making animated videos so simple that anyone can create one for use in meetings, presentations, websites, etc. Using their online tools and templates, you can create and publish your own video. 
Pixton Comics is the product of a small Canadian company run by Clive Goodinson.  Using Pixton’s online authoring tools, anyone can create a unique comic, with talk bubbles relating the content. It could be used for fun, but also has big educational and explanatory potential. 
You may have seen an Xtranormal animation. The service allows you to write a script for a video and they take care of the rest.  Your script gets animated using their characters and mechanical voices. The site offers a number of new options with desktop and education plans. 
Prezi is the "zooming presentation editor".  As opposed to presenting with slides, Prezi provides a single, open space for your words, pictures and videos.  The zooming effect makes the experience feel like a camera from above is moving through the space and focusing on specific points.  It has a bit of learning curve, but can be effective. 
Slide Rocket is a platform for modernizing your presentation. You can import an existing PowerPoint to Sliderocket to make it more media-rich, social and trackable. You can also create new slides or presentations using their tools and collaborate more easily with teammates. 
Haiku Deck is an iPad-based presentation platform that provides high quality and visually compelling themes and images for presentations, along with tools for authoring slides. You can upload your own images and the presentations play on computers, tablets and phones. 

Common Craft Explainer Network

Of course, if you need a video that is custom designed and build for your product, our Explainer Network of producers can help. Disclosure: The Explainer Network is a project with which I am affiliated.

I'm sure you know of other resources - tell us about them in the comments...


Lee LeFever is the founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand. Available for pre-order now and arriving in bookstores and eReaders in mid-October.