Diagrams: The art of simplifying information

7 minutes
Written by: Natalia De la Peña Frade

I’m sure at least once in your life you’ve thrown together a quick sketch or drawing on a scrap of paper, or maybe a napkin, to communicate an idea and help someone understand you more easily, right? Visual aids, no matter how makeshift, are always a great help.

Well, that doodle on that wrinkled napkin that probably ended up in the trash may have been a diagram! When you want to convey complex ideas and make sure people understand you, a good diagram can save the day. And if it’s an interactive diagram, even better!

What is a diagram?

Diagrams are visual and schematic representations of information. The objective of a diagram is to simplify. Processes, timelines, workflows, and systems, for example, all become much easier to explain and to understand when the information is displayed in a diagram and communication is supported by visual resources.

In general, in a diagram, the main ideas are represented within boxes or other geometric shapes, which are connected to each other by arrows or straight lines to show the relationship between them. Diagrams are useful in any context in which information is conveyed for any purpose. 

As I previously talked about in this post about how to present data, what captures people’s attention most is movement, colors, big objects, and contrast. That’s why the design of diagrams, which is based on shapes, simple lines, and color contrasts, is so effective.

For example, timelines are a very popular type of diagram; they’re ideal for displaying a series of events or the steps in a process. Mind maps and concept maps are other types of commonly-used diagrams.

Diagrams are one of the tools used in data visualization, a fundamental technique in the era of Big Data, and it has never been more important to simplify information when it comes to communicating. Diagrams help to put the large amounts of data that we handle nowadays in order. A simple, well-thought-out diagram can explain even the most complex information or process.

And what’s an interactive diagram?

It’s a diagram that includes elements that people can interact with. And that’s what makes it great, because if you create an interactive diagram, you can add as many ideas as you want without making your design too complicated, and also, the information becomes an experience.   

When you create a diagram, you need to simplify the information as much as possible. But of course, you run the risk of leaving out important things. On the other hand, if you try to cover everything, in the end it can get too complicated, and the diagram will not fulfill its purpose, which is to help people understand things. 

Thanks to interactive elements, you can distribute the information on several levels, and add everything you need while at the same time maintaining a clean design.

Create your interactive diagram with Genially! You already know that we are THE interactivity specialists. You can include interactive elements without having to know how to program, and add animation effects to make your diagrams even more eye-catching. Remember we said that movement is the first thing the human eye perceives? Well, now you know: add animations to catch all the eyes!

In Genially you’ll find many templates that include the most common diagram models in the business world. With these templates you can create amazing interactive diagrams in just a few minutes. 

8 types of useful diagrams and when to use them in your company

What information do you want to illustrate? If you have numerical data, using graphs and charts is a good idea. Diagrams are generally used to show qualitative data: non-numeric data that express non-quantifiable characteristics, although you can also show a mixture of both types of data in a diagram.

Here’s how to use the different types of interactive diagrams in your communication efforts:

1. Venn Diagram

Is it the simplest of diagrams? Yes, but only when it involves few elements. As simple as it is effective, the Venn diagram is the most visual way to represent the relationship between two or more things. 

They are widely used in presentations as they allow us to illustrate information very clearly.

Use the Venn diagram when you want to represent the differences or similarities between different ideas or elements. 

2. Ishikawa or Fishbone diagram

The Ishikawa diagram was created in 1943 and is used in corporate environments to identify and resolve problems or improve processes. 

It’s the perfect tool for detecting bottlenecks and uncovering the roots of a problem in a visual way. It’s used a lot in industry, operations, and also in quality control

The idea is that identifying the causes of a problem is the first step to solving it. 

Take a look at this Harvard Business School case study that depicts the problems in a factory’s production process:

As you can see, this diagram model allows ideas to be categorized so that they can be grasped at a glance, and interactive tooltips have been added so that the audience can intuitively access additional information whenever they want.

3. Bow tie funnel

This double funnel in the shape of a bow tie (hence the name) is a more comprehensive version of the classic sales funnel, which represents the entire process. The CLTV or Customer Lifetime Value, which is the period of time a person spends as a customer of a company, does not end with the sale, and this is what the Bow Tie diagram reflects. The sale is at the center, and then comes the customer retention strategy.

Beyond the four phases of the classic buyer journey, the process continues with the actions that will take each customer from Adopter to Brand Ambassador. 

Representing actions and results in a Bow Tie diagram allows companies to adopt a broader view and develop a more complete strategy.

4. Porter’s 5 forces diagram

This diagram, created by economist Michael Porter in the late 1970s, helps you understand the dynamics of the market in which you want to compete and helps you define your competitive strategy. 

The Porter’s Forces diagram is extremely useful at any time in a company’s lifetime, as it not only helps to analyze the market and the competition, but also helps to find new strategies.

5. Organizational chart

On this list of the most used diagrams in business, we couldn’t possibly leave out the humble org chart, which may be the most well-known of all.

An organization chart is a graphic representation of the departments and people that make up the company.

Use interactivity to give it another dimension! This will help the team get to know each other much better.

Tip: Do you need to represent a very large team?  If the traditional organization chart model is too small for you, this template will be great. 

6. Gantt diagram

A Gantt chart is a chronogram, meaning a visual representation of a project’s activities and expected start and end dates. It is a project management tool.

Use the Gantt chart to plan and display the tasks in a project and the time frames for the different teams involved.

With this premium template you can create a Gantt diagram in minutes. 

Using interactive elements allows you to add a lot of information. And, in a genially you can insert content in any multimedia format. This way your diagram will also serve as a communication tool. Teams can consult all the information about the project in the same place.

Another advantage: you only need to share the link to your genially once. After that, even if you make changes to update the information, whoever has the link will always see the latest version. Very practical! 

7. SWOT

There can be no project without a SWOT analysis! This widespread analytical tool is considered essential when analyzing the situation of a company or a project. 

SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. 

A SWOT table shows the analysis of the internal and external factors affecting the company, both favorable and limiting for the business. 

A SWOT analysis allows us to establish an initial diagnosis that will serve as a basis for a strategy, as well as aid in decision making. 

8. Process diagram

What cannot be seen does not exist, or it may as well not exist, and this also applies to business processes. The process or flow diagram is a graphical representation of all the processes that take place in a company, the order in which they are carried out, and also the relationship that exists between them.

With this type of diagram you can visualize the workflow to help understand its operation, detect problems, and improve management.

Here’s a template in which presenting your inbound strategy will require less effort than tying your shoes.

As you can see, diagrams are a super flexible format; there’s a diagram for every occasion! Create an interactive diagram with Genially and successfully communicate your ideas with ease. 

Want to get started but not sure how? Try starting here!

Natalia De la Peña Frade
Natalia De la Peña Frade
Content creator: I try to write things you like to read
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