Drawing a diagram can be an effective way to communicate with people. I personally love having a dry erase board on hand to convey even the simplest concepts. This has less to do with my skill in diagramming and more to do with my secret fondness of dry erase boards.
The computer introduces a dilemma in diagramming though. Most people aren’t Adobe Photoshop experts, and many of the graphic design tools don’t lend themselves to creating basic workflows. Curved lines, creative graphics- these things take too much hassle for non graphic designers to draw up.
As a result, numerous diagramming tools have been built each with their own array of features and functions. Many are complex and quickly cause those without graphic design skills to go running back to their dry erase boards. A leading tool on the market designed for real people, is SimpleDiagrams.
SimpleDiagrams is a small desktop application that provides the functionality you need to quickly express your idea or concept. Launched in 2009, it’s withstood the test of time.
The first thing that’s different about SimpleDiagrams is that it looks great, offering multiple attractive styles to choose from. It has old style chalkboard complete with texture from years of use. Next is a dry erase board which also has a clean but slightly used background. And of course there’s a back to the basics white background with diagramming markers. When using the chalkboard or whiteboard options it adds some character to the diagram lines such that it looks like you actually drew it on the board.
The next thing that stands out about SimpleDiagrams is its feature set. It specializes in providing the features you need. Their philosophy is if you need more features, there are more complex diagramming tools you can go figure out. As for me, (still clinging discretely to my prized dry erase board), SimpleDiagrams is as far as I’m willing to venture.
The features include a pencil, a line which can be made curvy, text, and then a series of preloaded libraries full of graphics. Graphics are divided into categories such as Basic, Biz, Meetings, and Communication. Examples are a telephone, stop sign, a series of shapes, and my personal favorite, a fax machine. (My fondness of dry erase boards is rivaled only by real, live, functioning fax machines.) All items can be readily resized and colors changed to that of the user’s choosing. Note that true to the simple philosophy, they don’t offer all 16.7 million hex color values. They provide a concise sampling which fits on the screen nicely. It’s more akin to the 120 Crayola colors, which is to say, actually useful. Nobody needs 2000 versions of orange. A couple other features include the ability to import photos and add notes on post-its or index cards.
SimpleDiagrams come with a 7-day free trial where you can figure out for yourself how easy it is to use. Version 4.0 has numerous standout features including custom color palettes, quick styles, SVG support, and direct printing. It’s available on Mac, PC, and Windows and can be installed on up to three locations per license.
SimpleDiagrams is a great tool for creating mockups. The attractive flow and styling makes them ideal for presentations to clients or for internal discussions. Although some of us are slow to admit that dry erase boards aren’t always necessary, Simple Diagrams does its part to help us move on. For most, it’s just an easy way to create attractive diagrams when you need them.