Are there any UX rules for adding noise to a chart? I know that Stephen Few and his ilk talk about reducing chart noise as much as possible. But Is it acceptable to add some in?

The use-case I'm thinking about specifically is highlighting on a timeseries when the weekends occur. When looking at lots of time-based data, there are often dips on the weekends due to lower use compared to weekdays.

Here is an example: https://jsfiddle.net/zwLneos6/


The point of reducing noise is to eliminate everything that isn't necessary or meaningful in some way so the substantive information is showcased.

To highlight weekends would add another bit of data for the user to process. If this is an important data point (and it sounds like it is), then the method you proposed seems like an unobtrusive way to do so.

My only recommendation is that you communicate what the grey shading means. Otherwise, as in your one-week example, it may not be clear that these shaded because they are weekends. A short note near the chart's legend would likely be sufficient (adjust wording as you see fit):

Note: Weekends (Saturday and Sunday) are indicated by a grey background.

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