Choosing an Infographic Style: Flowcharts

Infographics translate complex data into an engaging and highly visual format that’s easy to follow and understand. Once you have a general concept for your infographic, you have to choose the best format for sharing your information. Infographics break down into a few core styles that cater to different needs. Flowcharts are one very specialized type of infographic you can use. Though they’re only suitable for a specific type of content, they’re extremely effective in the proper context and can generate a lot of buzz thanks to their obvious and immediate usefulness.

How Flowcharts Work

Image via Flickr by topgold

Flowcharts serve as decision-making tools that help you answer some specific questions. This type of infographic begins with a single easily identified problem, offers a series of questions to help you clarify the issue, and concludes with several possible answers tailored to meet your needs. Each question has one or more responses that lead you to different points on the graphic. You generally progress downward as you select your responses, though complex flowcharts can feature paths that intersect with one another so you might move both horizontally and vertically as you follow along.

Flowchart infographics are static designs that offer personalization. The beauty of this type of infographic is that each viewer experiences it differently. Nostalgia Rush created a flowchart to guide viewers toward the best ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons for their tastes. With dozens of different cartoons, this graphic has several paths you might follow. The same viewer could end at different points depending on the mood in a given afternoon.

This distinctive element is what makes flowcharts so shareable. One reader gets a different result from their friend’s. When you populate share buttons, make sure to emphasize this point with Tweets and posts that directly ask followers what results they landed on. Done right, your flowchart is a natural choice for social shares.

Choosing the Right Topic

Flowcharts are a very specialized type of infographic. They excel at refining viewers’ problems and guiding them toward solutions. However, flowcharts are not the best choice if you want to showcase a lot of statistics, numbers, and detailed data. If your topic boils down to an important decision-making process or series of critical actions, go for the flow chart. For other projects, consider a map, timeline, or story infographic. Select your digital media type carefully to make sure you have the right fit.

Some examples of topics that are well-suited to a flowchart include:

  • Choosing the best product or service for your needs: Which Lipstick Shade is Right for Me?
  • Determining the best way to use a product: How to Brew Your Perfect Cup of Coffee
  • Picking a course of action for a common problem: Should I Text Him?
  • Diagnosing a problem and finding the right repair: What Does That Household Sound Mean?
  • Understanding a complex process: How to Make a Short Film

Developing Your Questions

Flowcharts typically center around one core question, then use a series of detailed inquiries to guide the viewer to a personalized answer. Your flowchart may address which shampoo is best for soft summer hair. To this end, your questions would address the viewer’s hair type, summer agenda, and common habits. You might ask how long their hair is, where they’re vacationing, and how often they use products like hairspray.

It’s usually best to begin with your top question and final solutions, then develop the steps that get you from the top to the bottom of the flowchart. If you’re drafting a chart that guides viewers to the perfect vacation destination, choose your destinations, find similarities and differences, and develop a path that gradually breaks down the viewer’s needs. These charts get their flow from the natural progression of the questions. Begin broad and get more specific so you can break your path down gradually into a series of unique end points.

Leading Viewers to a Conclusion

Flowcharts are easy to ideate but often difficult to execute. Your chart may have four different answers, but you don’t want to get to these in a single question. The more steps you can incorporate, the better. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use a single path for each end point on your chart. You might have two or three answer progressions that lead to each answer.

Use visual brainstorming for your flowchart. Prepare to reword, rearrange, and redo your flowchart several times as you map out the progression from question to answer. Highlighters and sticky notes are great tools for manually mapping a flowchart. If you prefer digital organization, look for mind mapping tools or simple graphics programs that offer easy editing.

Adding Value to Your Flowchart

At the end of a flowchart, viewers want to know why they’ve reached a particular solution. Don’t simply dump them in a style category without telling them which answers led you to this collusion. If your flowchart addresses which paint color is best for the viewer’s living room, you should elaborate on each hue. Perhaps you chose green because they indicated an affinity for cool colors and nature-inspired hues, or maybe you picked white to suit their classic and contemporary tastes. Back up your conclusion to add value to the piece.

The bottom of your flowchart is also the best place for extra information. If you’re helping your viewers choose the right snack for their next movie night, you might include cooking tips or product suggestions at the bottom. This is prime real estate for your call to action. If you’re promoting a product or service, your flowchart can offer a direct CTA to boost conversions. Craft the conclusion carefully so your reader feels a sense of satisfaction after completing the chart.

Flowcharts are a powerful infographic style. They’re creative, intriguing, informative, and highly sharable. The extra effort required for flowcharts is well worth it for the impact that you can have with a beautifully designed infographic in this style. Start brainstorming how a flowchart might work for you.

About the author

Mandi Rogier

Mandi Rogier lives and writes in central Indiana. Over 8 years of freelance writing, she's covered everything from finance and business to culture and crafts. She spends her free time traveling, hiking, and exploring the Midwest with her two sons.