Why do we need to format our documents?
Instead of printing out our text documents by filling all the available space from left to right and top to bottom, we add white borders around it and use bigger characters for titles, spaces between paragraphs and so on. This is needed to make our articles readable and understandable.
The same way, to succeed with tiny graphics you need—besides data-based arguments—to remove all barriers between you and the reader.
This means first to simplify your visuals by removing most if not all gridlines and labels, and keeping just the essence. Then, use colours to get closer to your audience. Colours need to take a second role only to give touches to the picture and make the connection to your proposed solution.
Maximise the impact of your graphics by using white (or empty) spaces
The human eye is quickly attracted by colours and labels, but even more so by visuals. To increase the impact of your graphics, on top of using colours and limiting your visual elements, you need to use white and empty spaces.
- Remove gridlines, but keep the space between data and your graphic’s margins
- Replace labels and axis with white or empty borders
- Sparsely use text and leave space between different visual components
Leave space so that your reader’s eyes look towards your graphics by removing all unnecessary obstacles.
Another example of content which deserves to be simplified are application screens made by developers, which you can easily find in internal tools. White space, colours and simplified grids and labels can greatly improve these interfaces, even when there is a limited audience.