When designed and created properly, flowcharts can be an effective tool to diagram a step-by-step process. However, they can also be confusing when not created properly. When creating a flowchart, keep in mind that it must be easy to understand. Here are five tips to create a flowchart in order to make them as understandable and effective as possible. Applying them will make your flowchart easier to read, understand, and use.
Use Consistent Design Elements
It’s important to have consistency in the shapes, lines, and texts within a flowchart diagram to eliminate unnecessary distractions and improve the readability of the data flow. In some cases, color can be used to clarify the process steps. Additionally, spacing should always be uniform throughout. The majority of drawing programs require you to do this manually, taking a lot of time. So when you’re shopping for software, make sure it has automated drawing and formatting built-in.
Occasionally, it may be useful to make a flowchart beyond the basic, simple design scheme and even includes photographs. This can make your flowchart more interesting and dynamic, allowing people to gain a deeper understanding of the steps and the flow it diagrams. You may also need alternative visual elements if your audience is multi-lingual. Maybe some steps in the process are better explained with a visual representation. A good software program will let you make flowcharts that include photos, symbols, and hyperlinks.
Keep Everything on One Page
You should ensure that your flowchart fits on a single page while maintaining readable text throughout. If a flowchart becomes too big to fit on a single page, it’s best to split up large diagrams into multiple charts and connect them via hyperlinks. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your flowchart to one page:
- Try scaling it down if it’s just a little too big. When you scale a diagram down, remember that the font you are using will also scale. Here is a tip: Use a larger font to compensate for the reduction in scale. In this example, if you change your font to 16 points, then a 60% scale will result in a 9.6-point type. Since using a larger font will automatically increase the size of the symbols, you’ll have to make adjustments to get the right appearance.
- If you have many steps in your flowchart, try arranging your diagram to flow left to right. This way, even if it pours over into another diagram, it can be easily followed by a subsequent line where it continues.
- Another way to handle a large flowchart is to break it up into smaller ones. You can do this by beginning with a top-level diagram that provides a summary of the steps in the complete process. Following each summary, a hyperlink will be provided for viewing a separate flowchart that shows further details on that particular step. These steps in the detailed flowcharts may summarise even more detailed steps or sub-processes. Each of these will be hyperlinked in the same manner, and it may continue into several layers of detail.
Flow Data from Left to Right
Almost every language is written left to right. So, structuring a flowchart from left to right will make information easier to read and comprehend. Structuring your flowchart from top to bottom achieves a similar fluidity and can be another option instead of going left to right.
Use Split Paths Instead of Traditional Decision Symbols
In traditional flowcharts, diamond symbols are used to represent decisions. However, this entails the following three inherent problems:
- When a decision symbol is used, it immediately breaks the left-to-right rule and makes the flow chart more challenging to follow.
- Many users do not understand the meaning of the symbols. So an introduction of a diamond shape is distracting.
- Many flowchart creators are unfamiliar with the intended meaning of various conventional symbols, so they use them randomly and create confusion.
Using a split path can eliminate all three of these problems. As it continues the left-to-right process flow, it’s easy to understand and follow without explanation.
Place the Return Line under the Flow Diagram
As we naturally read text from top to bottom, return lines should follow flowcharts rather than come from above. If two return lines are required, they shouldn’t overlap.
To create the best flowchart, it is essential that it has a logical beginning and ending. Also, all the steps in between these two are clear and easy to follow.
Using a flowchart template can help you visually depict a process or give your workflow some visual impact. With Fresco, you can easily create a flowchart template, so create an account and start building your custom flowchart template right now. If you want to learn more about the advantages of using a flowchart or some good flowchart examples, make sure to check out our articles on them as well.