Best Practices for Making Flowcharts

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Excellence is one of the defining features, that invariably underlies outstanding achievements. Time and again, this attribute has emerged as a cornerstone in various fields of human enterprise. Such domains include academics, sport, warfare, politics, empire building, feats of engineering, trade and enterprise, research, the performing arts, etc. An examination of excellence reveals sets of best practices that inform and enable the attainment of excellence. The repeated application of such practices enables human beings to attain sustained levels of excellence in various pursuits. The use of best practices also informs the creation of flowchart diagrams. The designers of such diagrams can implement said practices in pursuit of creating top-notch illustrations that address the requirements of stakeholders at every level.

Designers must strive to attain a sense of visual balance when they architect a flowchart. They must bear in mind this aspect of best practices in the interests of preserving the integrity of the illustration. In line with this, they must work to contain the entire flowchart within a single panel (or screen). Concurrently, they must work to promote the legibility of the content positioned inside the diagram. The outcome is a compact visual representation that describes the moving parts of a system or process. Readers and reviewers benefit from such best practices when they peruse the entire illustration without resorting to the proverbial page flipping. However, this aspect of best practices is subject to exigencies such as a long or expansive illustration. In such cases, designers may construct the illustration to cover two or more panels (or screens). Such actions reinforce the conditions referenced earlier in this paragraph.

The structure of a flowchart represents an important aspect of best practices in modern times. The flow of information depicted inside these diagrams is critical to audience comprehension. Therefore, designers must conform to design orthodoxy and ensure that information flows from the left to the right. This direction of flow is intuitive and allows readers to trace the succession of stages that develop in the course of a flowchart diagram. However, the illustration must also preserve linearity; this mandates a continuous flow wherein the second line of the flowchart proceeds from the right to the left. The absence of any sharp interruptions enables readers to complete a perusal of the entire illustration. That said, certain processes might include loops that connect stages that are positioned in different locations. This instance must be presumed to qualify for the best practices prescribed for any flowchart.

Color coding a flowchart ranks high among the best practices recommended for designers and creators of these illustrations. Colors, when deployed appropriately, can spotlight a specific path (or loop) within a flowchart. Color can also help designers to differentiate between different processes or sub-processes that animate a certain system or process. In addition, the use of colors appears intuitive for modern designers that architect diagrams in digital media. In response, the creators of flowchart design packages have engineered sets of color palettes inside the design package. These palettes enable designers to experiment with various colors, thereby reducing the visual tedium generated by monochrome illustrations. Further, the use of colors allows designers to draw readers’ attention to critical parts of the illustration.

Lines of distinction help to preserve the intended structure of a flowchart and promote readers’ comprehension. Designers can deploy swim lanes inside the illustrations as a means to “explain a process flow that includes different responsible parties. Swimlanes help clarify who or what is responsible for each step.” The connecting lines between the different stages of a flowchart can breach the swim lanes as part of the master design of the illustration. Designers must ensure that this aspect of best practices distinguishes their efforts in the interests of creating a functional illustration. In addition, flowcharts designed with swimlanes empower organizations to improve business processes. These swimlanes allow process experts to affix higher responsibilities to certain work groups, correct inefficiencies, and eliminate delays.

Loops may be positioned in parallel lines below the master flows described inside a flowchart. This aspect of best practices enables designers to construct a systematic diagram that segues with visual aesthetics. Readers and reviewers can follow these loops to establish the intent of such connections. The horizontal positioning of these loop lines allows designers to contain the expanse of a flowchart within an appropriate space. This technique also prevents loop lines from overlapping inside a flowchart, thereby cutting the scope for confusion. Such an approach to positioning also helps designers to pursue speedy corrections should such a situation arise. We may view these in-diagram lines as the digital equivalent of plumbing that connects buildings and elevations to public utility services.

Fewer words and text-based content represent one of the best practices for the designers of flowcharts. This technique allows designers to generate a balance between the graphical manifestation of a flowchart and the text contained therein. The designers must practice an economy of words to achieve this end. Alternative methods of labeling a flowchart include the legend, which serves as a key to decode the text enclosed in such illustrations. In case designers are required to author extensive sets of notes, they may link these notes to the flowchart using hyper-links. Additionally, the designers of flowcharts must cultivate extensive linkages with process experts. These actions will ensure that both parties coordinate at higher levels.

An outstanding flowchart must remain accurate in every respect. Essentially, designers must collaborate to position a significant level of technical detail inside the diagram. This technique allows them to create an accurate document for the benefit of all stakeholders. Visually dense diagrams require designers to create sub-processes in separate regions of the master illustration. These measures enable creators to deliver on the expectations of all clients. In addition, high levels of accuracy reduce the scope for errors inside the illustrations. This automatically raises the worth of the final master document in the eyes of all stakeholders.

Regular revisions of the form and content of a flowchart diagram are important in every project. The designers may adopt this aspect of the best practices and enforce such revisions. A step-by-step revision ensures steady progress toward the completion of a project. The lessons drawn from each revision should help to raise the standard of future endeavors. Any errors must be located and eliminated from the flowchart. The revision effort must also include initiatives to incorporate updated information into the content. This is critical because it allows the flowchart to remain relevant at different points in time. In addition, client feedback and comments may be incorporated into the illustration as part of revision initiatives.

In the foregoing paragraphs, we have examined some of the best practices that attend the design and architecture of outstanding flowcharts. Every designer must exert himself or herself to adhere to these recommendations. The more enterprising of the breed may choose to collaborate with process experts and such collaboration will likely result in the creation of high-level flowcharts that may become templates for future development. Designers and creators may also invest time and their resources to refine the general mechanics of creating a new flowchart. Such refinements may elevate the quality of outcomes and set new standards in the science and art of creating perfect flowcharts.

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