7 Design Tips to Make Easy to Understand Charts and Graphs

Charts and graphs are highly effective when it comes to conveying information. They help people understand data with just one look.

Unfortunately, making effective charts isn't that simple. Apart from choosing the right type, it would be best if you also had the right tools, like a graph maker, to present your data accurately.

To help you nail your next charts and graphs, check out the following design tips:

1. Pick the correct type of chart

Charts and Graphs
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There are around 16 types of charts and graphs that are commonly used in data visualization. The most common are probably pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and Cartesian graphs.

Understanding these chart types allows you to use one that'll be most effective for your audience. 

For example, if you're working on nominal data, bar charts are best for you. If you're dealing with ordinal data, you'll find pie and bar charts quite helpful in presenting them.

2. Double-check your data.

Begin with simple graphs to see any weird spikes. If something doesn't make sense to you, verify before making a presentation.

Mistakes can happen when encoding data. Make sure that there are no typos in the sheets you're using to make your graphs.

3. Make important details stand out

Creating a clear visual focus can help your audience focus on the most critical parts of your charts. 

This makes it essential that you remove unnecessary styling. Such styles will just get in the way of conveying your information.

4. Don't use unnecessary legends

Using legends doesn't make sense if there are several data points. The same applies when you're comparing just a few data points.

5. Pick the right colors

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Using the right color helps make sure that you won't lose your audience in the middle of your presentation.

So, how do you choose the best color?

For one, try to use intense color contrasts like black and white. Blue and white works well, too. 

Use the brightest color to represent the largest quantity if you're making a bar graph. If you're working on a line graph, use colors for your valuable lines. That way, you'll be drawing attention to the right places.

To avoid confusion, try to avoid using more than six colors at the same time. Having too many colors will only confuse your audience and make your data challenging to tell apart.

You wouldn't want to use orange and green in a single chart or red and green. Around 10% of men have some form of color deficiency, with red-green being the most common. It'll be difficult for them to differentiate the two colors.

Keep in mind that not all color combinations work well in charts. Yellow on white, for example, makes texts hard to see. The same goes for the navy on black.

6. Keep it simple

Special effects, whether text or animation, can do great for your visual content. That is if you do them right.

Any movement you add to your chart will get your audience's attention so make sure you use effects properly. 

You can use quick and easy wiping motions when revealing relevant data. You can make a section pop up to draw eyes to specific trends and values.

But here's the thing:

Special effects aren't always helpful, particularly if you overdo them. For example, constantly using large animation can detract attention from the most important information on your graph. Having twirling bar graphs and bouncing texts can decrease your chart's readability, too. They might even leave your audience feeling confused and overwhelmed.

It's not a good idea to use 3D effects either. This goes particularly true when you're making bar graphs.

Having bars that look like cubes will just make it hard for your audience to understand where the top of the data ends.

7. Do a squint test

This test helps make sure that your chart is effective. 

How do you perform the squint test?

First, take a look at the graph. Squint your eyes until the numbers and text appear blurred.

Your chart and graph are effective if you can still understand their purpose. If you can tell what they are comparing or revealing, then you can move forward. Otherwise, you'll need to go back and make revisions

Bonus tip: Ask other people's opinions

When you're working on a graph for a long time, you tend to miss one or two points. Letting fresh sets of eyes take a look at your graph can help point out what you're missing.

For this to be effective, try to ask someone who's never seen your chart. They can offer insights from a different perspective.

Take note that you don't have to accept every single suggestion. Consider your data and make sure that you don't sacrifice them when making changes.