6 Useful Flowchart Tips to Create Better Flowcharts

Flowcharts are probably the most used diagram type in the world. Many flowcharts can be drawn using few basic flowchart symbols and most people will understand them without any problem. But once the flow or the process becomes complex creating a good flowchart can be a challenging task.

The following flowchart best practices will teach you how to make a good flowchart for any complex process. These flowchart tips include understanding flowchart symbols, using flowchart color coding mechanisms and how to use swim lanes effectively among other things. And best of all you can use our flowchart maker to draw them online as well.

Why are you drawing the Flowchart(s)?

This is a good thing to do for any diagram, let alone a flowchart. Once you identify the reason for drawing the flowcharts the next steps become a bit simpler. It may be to explain a process to someone, to better understand a process, find bottlenecks in a process and so on. Depending on the situation and the audience you can adjust your flowchart.

Flowchart color coding

You can use a color scheme in your flowchart to identify various things. You can use it to highlight processes that belong to different parties, to highlight risky processes/decisions, to highlight a specific path in a process and for many other things. You can simply use it to differentiate between processes and decisions if color coding is your thing. But always remember to include a legend in the corner so everyone knows how to read the chartand understand what the flowchart colors symbolize.

Our flowchart maker comes with a built-in colar palette which makes it easier to color code your flowchart. Stick to one theme and you'll have a beautiful flowchart with matching colors that even a designer would be proud of.

Using swim lanes to separate actors/parties

Swimlane chart is the best way to explain a process flow which includes different responsible parties (or things). They help clarify who / what is responsible for each step quite easily.

If you have many actors (say more than 6), it might be better to generalize them if possible. Ex. rather than having three columns for Bob, Wiley and John at Marketing department, just group them into the Marketing department. Again, it all depends on who the audience is.

On Swimlanes, Creately has some neat tricks that automatically glues shapes to swimlanes so you don’t miss them when resizing etc.

Decide on the start and end points of the flowchart

As trivial as it may sound, a flow with random endings is more confusing than it helps. So choose the objectives and keep it simple.

Break it down into multiple flows

Very long flowcharts can be very complex and tend to make the reader overlook details that you are actually trying to convey. It is best to break down a flowchart into sub-flows. Use the connector and inbuilt link feature to create automatically linked documents with sub-flows in Creately.

Get your team on-board

Documenting processes or planning steps requires careful review and thinking. You can use Creately’s inbuilt collaboration features to help kick this process off easily.

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