A lot of people think that to create a flowchart is easy. In most cases, that’s true. The process involved is relatively straightforward.
However, this doesn’t mean that messing up a flowchart design isn’t possible. For example, even with a lot of experience in crafting this type of chart, you can still commit the following common mistakes.
Inappropriate Use of Flowchart Symbols
One thing that makes flowcharts effective is the use of the right symbols. They can make the flow easier to understand.
Each symbol has its own meaning and purpose. Therefore, you can’t mix them up because you will just confuse your readers.
One of the most commonly used symbols is the process or action symbol. It’s usually represented by a rectangle. It symbolizes action, process, or function.
The process symbol is different from the terminator symbol, representing the start point and endpoint of a flowchart.
Inconsistent Flow Direction
If you’ve been reading lots of flowcharts, you’ve probably come across two of the most widely accepted flow directions. These are the top-to-bottom and left-to-right flow.
Between these two, the latter is the ideal flow type to use. It makes processing more straightforward and less confusing.
Although you can use any of the two types, you have to keep in mind that they should never be used simultaneously in the same flowchart. Doing that will just confuse your readers. They may even end up misinterpreting your chart.
Using Too Many Color Schemes
There’s nothing wrong with using colors in your charts, as the example above shows. In fact, they can help make your design easier to understand.
For example, you can use one color as a differentiator. You can use the colors blue and pink to distinguish between the two sexes in your chart.
You can also use colors as a barometer to let your audience know the difficulty of a particular task. For example, you can use green for the easy tasks and red for the difficult ones.
Now, how do you pick your chart colors?
The answer to this question is highly subjective. If you can’t decide, it’s a good idea to stick with colors that offer easy assimilation of information without compromising the overall look of your chart.
Unfortunately, at times, people get too excited about the colors. They end up using too many color schemes that leave readers lost in the visual noise.
Inconsistent Symbol Sizes
Keeping your chart well-proportioned is essential in ensuring that it doesn’t look messy. As a guide, you can use the proportion between the height and width of your symbols as a reference for the other elements in your chart.
Take note that consistency may not be applied to other objects like your connectors. Some of them are meant to be small.
This is one of the things a lot of designers often miss. Instead, they tend to focus more on symbols and connectors that they end up not having even spacing.
Now, why is this important?
Your flowchart can be considered a reflection of you and your business. By maintaining even spacing, you’re creating a more professional impression. In addition, it shows that you’re taking the time to perfect your design for your audience.
At times, this is tricky to achieve. If that’s the case with your design, consider using a free flowchart maker like Venngage. It comes with lots of symbols, icons, and flowchart examples. Even if you don’t know a lot about designing charts, you can easily use and customize a template to create the design your business needs.
Try to keep your chart on a single page as much as possible. This makes analyzing and interpreting data easier.
If that’s not possible, your next step is to scale down your chart, as seen in the sample above. However, in doing so, you can end up cramming everything into a really small space. As a result, the details become unreadable, and your chart begins to look messy.
Before scaling down, make sure that your text remains readable. If you are having a hard time doing that, another option is group processes together. After that, you can collapse them to make your flowchart look less cluttered.
Very Long Flowcharts
A really long flowchart can make readers overlook the most important details of your presentation. If you can’t avoid making long flowcharts, try to break them down into sub-flows. To ensure you don’t lose your readers, you can use connectors. You can also use your tool’s link feature to connect documents.
Not Reviewing Your Chart
Working with tired eyes isn’t good. It can make you prone to mistakes.
What is a flowchart good for if it’s not coherent and cohesive to its readers? Before you publish your design, it’s a good idea to take a rest first and review your chart with fresh eyes. Then, if possible, get another person to review it with you.
Just take note of these don’ts in making a flowchart, and you should be fine. Better yet, sign up for free with a flowchart creator like Venngage and take advantage of its editable templates.