Org chart design: Choose a layout that your team will love

With the right org chart software, you can make the best org chart design. The design of your org chart matters; it’s how your team, new recruits, partners, suppliers, and stakeholders understand who is in charge of what.

If you’re starting with a blank screen in front of you, and don’t know where to start with your org chart design, here are some tips on how to clarify what is most important for your unique team.

Choosing an org chart design

Org charts are made up of boxes that are organized by levels. It sounds simple, but can quickly get complicated if you’re not clear about a few things:

  • Should all org chart boxes include the same information?
    • If yes, then it’s simple to start adding names and titles to your boxes
    • If no, then what boxes need to be different? Should manager boxes have more information (such as headcount, department name, location, phone number, etc.)? Should regular employee boxes be smaller with less information?
    • Tip: Make sure you can edit all boxes at once so you don’t waste time going back and changing hundreds of boxes by hand.
  • Should levels be comparable? For instance, should a “Sr. Manager” in the Sales department be able to visually see that she is on the same level as a “Sr. Manager” in the Finance department?
    • If yes, then be strict with how you place boxes in your org chart.
    • If no, then you can place boxes wherever they fit best on the screen.
  • What colors do you want your org chart boxes to be?
    • Often, a neutral color is easy to read.
    • However, it can be much more personal to use your brand’s official colors.

Org chart software design: Simple white example

org chart design white template example

This org chart design example has a very simple black text layout on white boxes. It’s easy to see that of the 4 people that report to the CEO, three of them are on level 2, and one of them is an assistant without a level. Every box includes the same basic info about job title and employee name. An org chart like this is very easy to glance at and understand.

Org chart software design: Simple gray example

org chart design simple gray example

In this example of an org chart, some different design choices were taken. For example, manager boxes include some extra information about total headcount (automatically calculated by the OrgWeaver org chart software). Also, there is a different color for managers (dark gray) and assistants (light gray) to more strongly differentiate between levels within the org chart.

Org chart software design: Detailed black example

org chart design detailed example

This org chart example gives much more detailed information. As you can see, the core info about the employee and the job title are still there, but we’ve added data about a department/unit, office location, phone email, job description, and employee bio. To make room for it all, we’ve removed the employee photo. Also, we’ve made all of the boxes the same color, but show less info for people that are not managers (see the “Anton Brakke” box).

Org chart software design: Basic branded example

org chart design branded example


This final example built with online org chart software strips away everything to the basics, but uses branded colors instead of neutral colors. This type of org chart can give your team the feeling that it was truly designed for them.

How to add org chart colors that fit your brand

Take the time to color your org chart to fit your brand identity and styles. Organizational charts are everywhere, but rarely make people say “Wow!”. For the same reason that web designers agonize over color palettes, your org chart could have much more impact with the right colors and styles. Here’s a quick overview of how to do it and some examples of OrgWeaver org charts that are perfectly color matched to some of the world’s most recognized brands.

Find your brand’s official colors

  • Many well-known brands have their colors available online. Try Brand Colors
  • Or add a color picker to your Chrome browser (like Colorzilla) and pick your brand’s colors directly from your website
  • Copy the Hex code for each color you want to use in your org chart (here’s an example of a Hex code for Google’s blue brand color: #4285F4)

Add colors to your org chart software

  • Open OrgWeaver org chart software
  • Go to the area where you can edit your org chart and change the org chart color theme by pasting in the Hex color codes of your brand. You can also just pick a color w


Change styles of your org chart

  • Choose how much data to show in each org chart box. Focus on just profile photos, names, and titles, or get more detailed with contact info, unit name, position description, and much more.
  • Drag and drop each piece of data so they fit perfectly in the org chart box. Save one style that automatically updates hundreds of org chart boxes.

Org chart color examples

Blue and green org chart like Google’s brand

Purple org chart colors like Instagram’s brand

Red and gold org chart colors like the 49er’s brand

Simple blue org chart colors

Convinced that adding your official colors to your org chart could have more impact? Then go find your brand’s Hex colors right away. If you don’t have a great org chart software yet, then get started creating a colorful org chart with OrgWeaver for free.

How the Oakland A’s get more from their organizational structure

Billy Beane is the legendary Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Oakland Athletics. It’s not often one gets played by Brad Pitt in a major motion picture because one takes a “data first” approach to management (Moneyball).  We are strong believers in “data first” here at OrgWeaver when it comes to organizational structures, so we were naturally pleased to be able to help out the Oakland A’s.OrgWeaver org chart software used by Oakland A's

When the senior leadership of the Oakland A’s wanted to make some organizational structure changes, they searched the web to find the best org chart software. Here’s what they needed:

  • Beautiful org chart design (with their team colors)
  • Profile pictures
  • Easy navigation
  • Drag and drop editing
  • Collaboration and sharing
  • Structured data

It was quickly obvious that the typical option for org charts (PowerPoint) wouldn’t meet their needs.

Why PowerPoint is bad for org charts

PowerPoint is great for many things, but not for org charts. It is limited because it is essentially a drawing software. Each org chart box needs to be created one by one. And many times if you want to make a simple change to one org chart box, you have to rearrange all of the other org chart boxes. This makes it too time consuming to explore different organizational structure options. For those of you have have tried to design a complex org structure in PowerPoint, you understand why it always ends up as a dead document that goes unused (because no one wants to spend the time to update it).

Why the Oakland A’s chose OrgWeaver

The short answer is that OrgWeaver is specifically built to handle org charts and is the best org chart software available online. For the long answer, here’s a quote directly from the A’s:

“We needed a dynamic org chart that looks great and is easy to drag and drop. Our goal was to have our senior leadership spec out a new org structure and then share it with the entire team. OrgWeaver has been invaluable in that process. Compared to PowerPoint and a few other options we tried, OrgWeaver is easy to use and does a lot of the hard work for you. I’d definitely recommend it to others who need an org chart software.”

-Dash Davidson, Strategic Assistant to the President, Oakland Athletics

Why org charts matter

The Oakland A’s are not alone in their need to make better org charts. Other sports teams, businesses, and governmental agencies also need to align changes with senior leadership before communicating a new org structure in a way that everyone understands. Org charts matter because they are like a map of how teams work together. Without them, the only way to navigate through an organization is if one personally knows every colleague and their daily tasks.

So, steal a strategy from the Oakland A’s playbook and try OrgWeaver if you agree that org charts matter.

How to create an org chart from Excel

Excel to PowerPoint org charts with OrgWeaverDo you have data in Excel that you want to visualize as an org chart? Before you waste days trying to figure out exactly what you need to do, let us help you out. These are the key things you need to know to prepare your Excel data to be imported into most online org chart creators.

Be Unique

  • Some of your data has to be unique so that org chart software can make sense of it. But which data? Stick to the basics. Every single “people ID” and “position ID” needs to be unique. If you repeat any of those IDs, your org chart won’t work.
  • Don’t have IDs? You can just make them up! If you don’t have a “person ID” for every single employee, just create new IDs. In the “people ID” column, just start with the number 1 and continue down the rows of people until everyone has a “people ID”.

Be Thorough

  • Every row of data should include data about one single person that holds one single job. If there are any blanks in your data, try to fill it in as best as you can. If you have too many blanks, consider asking for more data from your colleague that keeps track of HR data.

Know The Boss

  • Org charts are made by connecting every single position to a manager. For instance, a VP reports to an Executive VP. And an Executive VP reports to the CEO. Make sure you have one column in your data that shows the “position ID” that each person reports to.
  • If you don’t have the “reports to position ID” column in your Excel sheet, it is necessary to add it. Start at the top. Find the “position ID” of the CEO (let’s say that “position ID” is 1). Then find every person that reports to the CEO and put the number 1 in their “reports to position ID” column. Do that for each leader until all of the rows are filled.
  • The top boss doesn’t report to anyone, though. So make sure that the “reports to position ID” of the person at the top of your org chart is left blank!

Start Simply

  • Download this example Excel sheet that shows all of the columns that are necessary to create an org chart from Excel.
  • The Excel sheet was made to work with OrgWeaver, but it should also help get your data prepared for an Excel import to Organimi, OrgPlus, OrgChart4U, OrgVue, and other online org chart creators.

New OrgWeaver Features = More Time Savings

Want to dive right in to the good stuff? Here’s the new Alphabet / Google org structure created in OrgWeaver

New features. More value.Expanded OrgWeaver org chart
We’re always listening to the needs of the OrgWeaver community and improving the software. Today, we’re announcing some new features that we think you’ll really like.

Publish and share org charts online
Show your org chart to anyone with one simple link.

Smart expand & collapse
One click to expand as many org chart levels as you want.

Save favorite views of your data
Choose exactly what data you want to see in your org structure.

Seeing is believing
Show your customers & colleagues how your structure works.

Example: The new Alphabet / Google org structure

  • Anyone with the link can view it
  • Anyone can expand and collapse the boxes
  • Only the data that was chosen to be published is visible

HR Teams: Take Your Place as Workplace Heroes

I recently had an enlightening conversation with William Tincup, a uniquely powerful voice within the HR community.

To paraphrase one of his points; HR Tech can enable HR professionals to be workplace heroes. Not just firefighters running from crisis to crisis.

This really struck a chord with me.

TWorkplace Heroeshe HR professionals we’ve worked with are heroes, not just firefighters. They see themselves at the center of the most important strategic, financial, and technological changes that their companies face. Instead of deferring to strategy consultants, finance teams, and IT leaders, they are taking their place at the table. When Executive Committees ask “Are we on track with our strategy?” or “Will we complete this critical project on time?”, HR Teams who embrace the power of the latest software innovations are the ones who have the most complete answers at their fingertips. That’s what makes them workplace heroes; being the ones that people turn to for the most critical questions.

Here are some examples of what we’ve seen from innovative HR teams:

  • Instead of letting strategy get stuck in report binders and post-it notes on a wall, HR teams are leveraging simple software to have a two-way exchange with employees about how the strategy personally effects their careers and ambitions.
  • Instead of allowing finance to take control of projects that involve FTE costs, HR teams are adding value by gathering and managing the most up-to-date information about what employees really do, who they work with, and how employees can be better organized to save costs and increase productivity.
  • Instead of being frustrated with IT decisions made years ago that don’t fit today’s needs, HR teams are harnessing the power of targeted HR software packages that can be bought as a solution with a clear immediate return on investment.

We’re proud to know these workplace heroes in HR. We’re dedicated to providing them with the tools they need to make an impact in days, not months or years.

Thanks, William Tincup, for the inspiration.

BrightArch Named “Cool Vendor” in HCM by Leading Analyst Firm

Oslo, Norway, May 3, 2011 – BrightArch AS, a leading provider of post-merger integration and organizational restructuring solutions, today announced they have been included in the list of Cool Vendors in the “Cool Vendors in Human Capital Management” report by Thomas Otter, James Holincheck, Jeff Freyermuth, and Koji Motoyoshi of the industry research firm Gartner, Inc.

In the report, Gartner suggests that IT and HR leaders rethink how to “manage mergers and recruitment by improving communication and increasing employee participation through social software.”

The team at BrightArch has been rethinking how to better manage the complexities of staffing the right people to the right job after a merger or reorganization. Launched in 2010, OrganizationWeaver is their flagship software solution that allows for greater employee participation to reach optimal staffing decisions.

“We are pleased that Gartner has recognized OrganizationWeaver’s capabilities, which we believe make reorganizations more social and transparent than traditional methods,” said Tor Kielland, Chairman and CEO of BrightArch. “Done right, being social and transparent can have a significant effect on the bottom line.”

OrganizationWeaver has been developed to meet the specific needs of companies going through a reorganization process. “Companies have often had to choose between a quick or a quality reorganization,” said Kielland, “but OrganizationWeaver gives them the option to have both. The trick is to make and track decisions centrally that are based on insights from all areas of the organization.”

Based out of Oslo, Norway, BrightArch is focusing its efforts on providing OrganizationWeaver to European corporations.

Cool Vendor Disclaimer
About Gartner’s Cool Vendors Selection Process

Gartner’s listing does not constitute an exhaustive list of vendors in any given technology area, but rather is designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness of a particular purpose.

Gartner defines a cool vendor as a company that offers technologies or solutions that are: Innovative, enable users to do things they couldn’t do before; Impactful, have, or will have, business impact (not just technology for the sake of technology); Intriguing, have caught Gartner’s interest or curiosity in approximately the past six months.

About BrightArch
BrightArch AS is an independent private limited company that provides organizational transformation solutions. Located in Oslo, Norway, BrightArch develops and supports OrganizationWeaver software. OrganizationWeaver is for companies that need to better manage the organizational design and staffing aspects of a post-merger integration, reorganization, or downsizing. To find out more, please visit


Nick Peters, Co-founder & CEO
Twitter: @brightarch