Smart graphic elements are provided for use as portions or components of one or more graphic displays, which may be executed in a process plant to display information to users about the process plant environment, such as the current state of devices within the process plant. Each of the graphic elements is an executable object that includes a property or a variable that may be bound to an associated process entity, like a field device, and that includes multiple visualizations, each of which may be used to graphically depict the associated process entity on a user interface when the graphic element is executed as part of the graphic display. Any of the graphic element visualizations may be used in any particular graphic display and the same graphic display may use different ones of the visualizations at different times. The different visualizations associated with a graphic element make the graphic element more versatile, at they allow the same graphic element to be used in different displays using different graphical styles or norms. These visualizations also enable the same graphic element to be used in displays designed for different types of display devices, such as display devices having large display screens, standard computer screens and very small display screens, such as PDA and telephone display screens.