Identifying user needs

When you are considering using a diagram, ask yourself what the user need is and whether that can be met solely with clearly written text.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What is the message you would be trying to communicate with a diagram?
  • Would a diagram help the user to understand the subject or would it raise as many questions as it answers?
  • Can the message be communicated as text or a table instead of a diagram? 
  • Are you trying to communicate too much information in one diagram?
  • Will you be updating the content regularly?

Users who access the website via screen readers and other assistive technology often cannot read text shown in an image, so they require the information to be provided as alt text as well as a longer description in the text. By trying to explain the message as succinctly as possible in the text before considering an image, it avoids duplicating content and ensures the website is accessible for everyone.

Consider whether the content will require significant time and resource to update regularly. It is easier to change text than it is a diagram.

If you are unsure whether a diagram would meet your users’ needs, contact content.design@ons.gov.uk for guidance.