Importance of Following Standards when Drawing Diagrams
Because Standards are Universally Accepted
Diagrams are a popular way to present information. They are easy to understand, visually pleasing and not as boring like a text document. Diagrams are easy to understand because they follow standards that are accepted worldwide. As soon as you start disregarding these standards your diagrams become less understandable. Easiness to understand is not the only reason you should follow standards and in this article I will discuss few reasons in detail.
Anyone Can Understand Them
The most important reason you should follow standards is because anyone can understand them when you follow standards. Every symbol in a diagram has a special meaning. That is why industry leaders have annual conferences to agree on the meaning of these symbols. If you take flowcharts as an example, a square or a rectangle means a process while a diamond means a decision point. If you use a circle for a process it instantly becomes harder to understand for other people. Of course if its a simple flowchart and doesn't have many decision blocks then people will understand. But it wont be easy for much complex flowcharts. Which is why it is always advisable to use some advanced flowchart software instead of word processors etc to draw them. These advanced software already have the correct objects in their library so your are less likely to make a mistake.
Helps in Code Generation
This applies mainly in software engineering and other technical fields. Diagrams are frequently used to give a high level overview of a software system. These diagrams can be used to automatically generate programming language code for the software system. The whole system wont be generated for you but you can easily generate the basic framework. For the code generation to work properly the standards has to be followed very strictly. For example a UML diagram tools are frequently used in software engineering. And if you added the wrong relationship in a class diagram it can ruin the whole system from code generation to database table creation. This is why highly qualified people like tech leads and system architects are paid heavily.
No Reason Not to Do It
Following standards when drawing diagrams is not a hard thing to do. There are plenty of tutorials covering symbols and drawing standards of all diagrams. With a simple Google search you can get a quick understanding of any diagram type very easily. However it is the practice which makes you an expert at drawing them.