How do you know if you have made an effective visual? What are guiding principles to help you do it better?
At the most simple level use these three points:
- have a clear message that matters to your audience
- use simple visuals to illustrate this message, in combination with discrete amounts of text
- have only one clear ask or task for your audience
There are many more principles than that, so let us list them out here — but return to these fundamental three ones.
- Give your audience concrete things to do. Guide them on what they should do. Make it clear what they can complete, and make it easy to do so.
- Be conversational. Anticipate what questions your audience has, and reflect these questions back to them, with answers included.
- Use simple, concise, visible tables whenever you can — to replace long prose text.
- Work with the natural flow of people’s reading — top to bottom, left to right.
- Use colors, bolds, and other accents in limited ways, strategically.
- Minimize any burdens on your audience.
- Use simple words, clarify meanings, and cut extra length.
- Provide key context and system-level views up front.
- Give big, bold, instructional headings to help the person understand what is going on in the detailed text.
- Avoid any language or images that is inflammatory. Go for neutral, matter-of-fact tone.
1 thought on “Core principles for good visualizations”
Thank for this resource! I am a product attorney in the Bay Area and find all of these materials so useful . I can’t tell if you are still active, but would love to be added to any mailing lists for new materials or speaking engagements.