When creating diagrams, keep in mind that they should be easy to scan, understand, and interpret. This post provides practical tips on how to make your diagrams informative, visually appealing, and easy to comprehend.
Tip #1 – Flow the data logically
Structure the data flow logically: from left to right and from top to bottom (for left-to-right languages) to make the information easier to scan and comprehend. Figure #1 shows how to display the logic of dependencies of I/O signals and their interrelations by positioning inputs and outputs correctly.
Tip #2 – Enhance formatting
Format the important data or workflows appropriately to turn users’ attention to the main data flow and help scan the information. Figure #1 shows the formatted in bold mainline, while figure #2 shows the formatted in red start of a playback.
Tip #3 – Duplicate the shapes
Duplicate the shapes to denote multiple objects of the same kind. This approach will help keep your diagrams clean. Figure #3 shows that there are multiple objects (ESI, Consoles, and motors) by duplicating their shapes.
Tip # 4 – Enlarge details
Enlarge certain areas of the diagram to show tiny-tiny details within the same page. You can use an inset or magnifying glass to zoom in the details and make your diagrams more informative. Figure #4 shows the diagram with details that are displayed in a magnifying glass.
Tip #5 – Customize shapes
Do not be afraid to customize default shapes for the diagram to make them recognizable by your users. Figure #5 shows customized light posts in an amusement park that consist of three layers: audio, light, and special effects.
Tip #6 – Use a legend
Use a legend in diagrams to make them easier to read and comprehend. Explain what the shapes (squares, arrows, colors, and other) in the diagram stand for. Be consistent in using the same shapes to denote the same objects in the legend throughout a series of diagrams. Figure #6 shows how to use a legend to explain the usage of shapes that denote different states.
Tip #7 – Use transparency
Use a transparent color for the background of a diagram to reuse it in multiple deliverables. Transparency keeps diagrams clear and clean. The following figures show how the same diagram looks in different deliverables: print (Figure #7)
If you follow these simple 7 tips, your diagrams will become easier to scan and comprehend.
You can explore this topic in more detail using these resources:
- Graphics, graphic types, and usage
- 7 steps to follow when creating a diagram
- Five Tips for Better Flowcharts