How do you describe in 100 to 200 words the book’s main character and conflict?
I am fascinated by the short book descriptions that are traditionally included on the inside cover or on the back. You have to admit the process is very similar to describing a complex topic using a graphic.
Let’s see a practical example, from the healthcare domain.
Usually, growth charts fill up a full page (even as software) and show the child’s curve points on top of country-specific references (percentile or standard deviations). These pages feature other calculations, components, and labels for parents, puberty etc.
How could we simplify these pages, without losing the essence of this information?
Let’s focus on one value only, and remove all the decorations like grids, and title, or axis labels. You still need to have a graphic which can be easily understood in your application context.
Removing sometimes means replacing with more or less subtle alternatives.
To remove the age axis you need to show the whole birth to 18 years period in this tiny alternative chart. Or some other period which is obvious for the user from previous choices or from the dashboard screen.
To show the evolution of a measured value such as height or weight, you need to draw the curve not in centimetres or kilograms, but in percentiles or standard deviation scores for each point.
The same way, the country-specific references behind the curve become flat reference bands for the -2, -1, 0, 1, and 2 SD lines.
There you have it, a full-page growth chart reduce to its essence. This allows the chart to appear on dashboards, or even be included in tables and text-based documents, as part of the text.
Your application can show a group of such sparklines as small multiples, having the same colour codes and axis, and give a complete overview to your users.