CRAPOLA design principles for quantitative data


Robin Williams (from her website: “writer. teacher. mom. not the actor”) has developed the widely cited CRAP design principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. These are powerful general purpose design principles, but a few additional principles are helpful with respect to the display of quantitative information.

Inspired by the work of Edward Tufte, I propose three additional rules be added to complete CRAP: Obviousness, Lightness, and Accuracy. The resulting CRAPOLA design principles for quantitative data are:

Contrast: avoid similar elements (type, color, size, shape, etc.); if they’re not the same, make them very different.

Repetition: repeat visual elements throughout to organize and unify.

Alignment: every element should have some visual connection with another element.

Proximity: group related items close together to facilitate comparison.

Obviousness (clarity): clearly communicate the data.

Lightness (efficiency): show the data and nothing else.

Accuracy (precision): do not omit or distort data.


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