simple shapes for redundant coding of colored objects in a diagram

22 Dec 2004 - 11:08am
9 years ago
7 replies
1015 reads
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Hello!

Could anybody suggest standards or practices, or just tips and tricks,
for redundant coding by shape of items in a large business analysis
diagram?

This is a very large information flow diagram going through several
iterations. It is done on Visio and sections or the entire image are
output on huge sheets of paper with an HP designjet plotter. Right now
it has six "pastel" coding colors but it might pick up more. Yes, I
know, more is not better, and I am doing my best to limit them.

I am concerned about having to fax parts of this diagram and/or showing
it to persons who are color blind an or just a bit color impaired
(which is my case) so I am looking at ways to give some shape to the
pastel blobs surrounding the words. Each shape would correspond to a
color.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

Comments

22 Dec 2004 - 11:20am
bill pawlak
2004

You might want to look at different fill patterns (checkerboard,
vertical stripes, diagonal stripes, etc.), rather than shapes, as the
secondary coding dimension. While the shapes may show up slightly
better on a fax, you run the risk of not being able to put in things
like decision points (typically represented in flow diagrams by a
square shape rotated 45 degrees) and jump points (often represented by
circles).

Another thing you could potentially do is keep the same basic shapes
you're using, but in addition to the color, change the weight of 1 or
more of the borders on the shape.

bill

On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 11:08:10 -0500 (EST), Alain D. M. G. Vaillancourt
<ndgmtlcd at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Could anybody suggest standards or practices, or just tips and tricks,
> for redundant coding by shape of items in a large business analysis
> diagram?

22 Dec 2004 - 11:26am
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

> I am looking at ways to give some shape to the
> pastel blobs surrounding the words. Each shape would correspond to a
> color.

If you have any complexity to the number of colors and shapes in the diagrams I would personally suggest coming up with simple one or two word labels to apply as a small title to the notes.

If my flow is time/process based I will often create a simple step diagram with only the high level steps (~4-8) and assign each step a color or shade and name. I will then use both the color and name in the more detailed diagram by placing the detailed steps over a large box with a border that is labelled and color coded to match the high level diagram.

I find that this offers a number of advantages:
- It simplifies the number of colors and shapes I have to use
- I can use standard process flow shape conventions for the actual detailed flow
- The shapes and text in the flow can be black and white for easy transmission only the background has color
- The high level diagram orients people reviewing the more detailed flow so they don't get lost is the complexity
- If you step away from a large plot the large steps are easily visable from a distance (good for group meetings)

--Coryndon

22 Dec 2004 - 11:26am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Bill Pawlak <bill.pawlak at gmail.com> a écrit :
>
> You might want to look at different fill patterns (checkerboard,
> vertical stripes, diagonal stripes, etc.), rather than shapes, as the
> secondary coding dimension. >

Ah, yes! Stripes!! That might work well. Thanks for the suggestion!

> Another thing you could potentially do is keep the same basic shapes
> you're using, but in addition to the color, change the weight of 1 or
> more of the borders on the shape.

I am staying away from any kind of border because I am trying to
maximize the readability of the text, and the presence of a solid
border hinders it. Hence, the pastel shapes.

Alain Vaillncourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

22 Dec 2004 - 11:32am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Bill Pawlak writes:

<<You might want to look at different fill patterns (checkerboard,
vertical stripes, diagonal stripes, etc.), rather than shapes, as the
secondary coding dimension.>>

This is an interesting idea. If you do this ensure that the patterns have
large granularity and not fine detail, so that they will be
distinguishable on a fax.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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22 Dec 2004 - 11:39am
bill pawlak
2004

Also, since you're doing it in Visio and I assume the labels are
inside the shape boundaries, you might want to make sure that you put
a white background behind the text itself so that it is readable
against the (what will likely be) a somewhat busy background.

bill

> This is an interesting idea. If you do this ensure that the patterns have
> large granularity and not fine detail, so that they will be
> distinguishable on a fax.

22 Dec 2004 - 1:28pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

> Could anybody suggest standards or practices, or just tips and
> tricks,
> for redundant coding by shape of items in a large business analysis
> diagram?

Bolding, arrows, outlines, textstyles & dropshadows provide clear visual cues that are not color-dependent. Greyscales and monochrome emphasis effectively indicate meaning - or at least grouping - without color. Esp. helpful when trying to communicate complexity on an achromatic platform (like fax).

For example: Sometimes I use an ellipse or italic text for an action, a box for a function, a dropshadow to indicate a specific screen (a dropshadowed rectangle that has a dotted outline for a popup), etc.

PS
Use more vibrant color sparingly to provide clear identity without the pastelly, distracting blur that comes with large fields of color. A box that is merely outlinened in a bold blue, red or green is just as understandable as a pastel fill - (easier for those of us who are color-perception-impaired) and it's less a visually distracting. You can also "mix & match" to indicate subsets of info (i.e. light yellow bgd boxes with different borders are all variations on a theme...)

John

22 Dec 2004 - 4:00pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Bill Pawlak <bill.pawlak at gmail.com> a écrit :
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Also, since you're doing it in Visio and I assume the labels are
> inside the shape boundaries, you might want to make sure that you put
> a white background behind the text itself so that it is readable
> against the (what will likely be) a somewhat busy background.
>

Yes and no. I wil be making an extra effort to keep the background
from getting busy, juggling with the granularity of the stripes (as
Elizabeth Buie notes) and also with the color saturation, to get the
faintest possible color in order to avoid having to put a white
background behind the letters.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

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