Annual report design: recommendations on tips on how to make a bland doc shine

Design works finest to impress! It’s principally related to a emblem or web site design when corporations must impress new clients or clientele, however design nonetheless applies to less-visible paperwork. Take annual reviews, which must impress stakeholders and potential traders. Annual report design is commonly seen as boring or medical, however contemplating their excessive stakes, they want thrilling designs greater than something!

Beneath, we talk about what makes the very best design of annual reviews, and supply ideas to assist create spectacular reviews. However first, let’s speak somewhat concerning the function of annual reviews and why they profit from superb designs.

person sitting down thinking about their annual report design
Illustration by OrangeCrush

What’s an annual report?

Annual report design example
Annual report design by FIATX19

Often known as “yearly statements” or “statements of data,” annual reviews are a written account of an organization’s efficiency for that 12 months. Whereas their goal is to instill confidence in present shareholders and future traders, in lots of states they’re additionally a authorized requirement.

Annual reviews usually embrace a letter from the highest government (i.e., president or CEO), a enterprise profile with an organization’s normal info, fiscal statements for the 12 months and a dialogue or evaluation, which often entails a forecast for the longer term.

Likewise, survey reviews are written in the identical fashion. Survey reviews additionally goal to disseminate info to stakeholders and events; as an alternative of economic info, nevertheless, they talk about the outcomes of a selected survey or questionnaire. In each circumstances, the aim of design is to make the in any other case dense knowledge extra digestible and simpler to understand.

Do you want a design of an annual report?

For those who introduced all the knowledge of an annual report instantly, with no visuals and no consideration for format, it will be, at finest, boring. Even when your yearly income soared, it will be troublesome to get stakeholders excited with solely black and white numbers on a web page.

The design of an annual report shouldn’t be essential to share the knowledge, however it’s essential to communication, not simply to make it attention-grabbing, however to make that info simpler to course of. An annual report design performs a big position in segmenting the info, providing it in manageable doses that don’t overwhelm the reader.

On prime of that, the visible and presentational features of your annual report design make it simpler to get the readers, stakeholders and traders on board with what your organization is making an attempt to do. Annual reviews have the potential to be extra than simply monetary paperwork, they’ll encourage and generate enthusiasm—and contemplating the content material, that additional enthusiasm might result in extra investments.

Given the excessive stakes of annual reviews, it’s not unusual for corporations to rent knowledgeable designer so as to add some aptitude. If, nevertheless, you’d wish to design your personal annual report, listed here are some useful ideas.

Finest ideas for yours annual report design

Use layouts to interrupt up sections and keep away from crowding

A correct format is crucial to annual report design. You’re presenting quite a lot of necessary info, so you have to arrange it in a manner that’s accessible and simple to learn.

For starters, you wish to divide your annual report design into classes and sections, separated by headings and subheadings. First, this successfully breaks up the knowledge so it doesn’t overwhelm the reader by coming suddenly. Second, it makes your annual report straightforward to scan; that’s an enormous assist for annual reviews, as a result of some readers will solely be involved in one or two elements, and also you don’t wish to make their search troublesome.

Breaking apart your annual report design additionally facilitates utilizing a desk of contents. This enhances the studying expertise, catering to those that choose and select which elements they wish to learn. Whereas it’d be good if everybody learn your annual report cowl to cowl, you continue to wish to accommodate those that are solely involved in explicit elements.

Annual report design example
Annual report design by Graphicsview

In relation to the visible format, use ample adverse area, in any other case often known as “white area” or just “empty area.” Whereas adverse area will make your annual report longer, it’s price it to offer respiration room to the textual content and figures.

Cramming phrases and knowledge collectively not solely makes it tougher to learn, nevertheless it additionally makes the knowledge tougher to retain. Spacing parts out with loads of empty area in between makes it simpler for the reader to understand what’s in entrance of them and finally helps them bear in mind it later. That applies to each textual content and visible aids like graphs.

Be intentional with what’s included

There’s quite a lot of info that’s acceptable in annual reviews and even survey reviews, however that doesn’t imply it’s best to embrace all the pieces. You’re free to choose and select which subjects you talk about and what you point out, so be intentional with what passes the bar.

We’re not suggesting you disguise the unflattering information. Relatively, ignore the pointless subjects that don’t actually add to the dialogue or present useful insights. Your organization’s personal enterprise targets ought to decide what will get probably the most protection in annual reviews.

For instance, for those who’re on the lookout for extra PR placement, embrace compelling or sensational info that’s straightforward to publicize. For those who’d want a standard state-of-the-company report, give attention to knowledge, graphs, and statistics that exhibit the corporate’s efficiency.

That is relevant recommendation for drafting a survey as nicely. Slim in on the questions that provide the most helpful solutions, and don’t stray from the subjects that want probably the most readability. Together with questions you already know the reply to only bathroom down the survey and distract from the extra necessary points.

Spare no expense on the duvet

Although well-intentioned, the previous adage “don’t choose a ebook by its cowl” is a bit misguided. The design of an annual report cowl isn’t only for seems to be, it could additionally serve strategic targets.

For one factor, the duvet of your annual report can introduce themes and put together individuals for what’s inside. For instance, if one explicit product had an distinctive 12 months, you may think about that includes it on the duvet. Much more summary themes work as nicely; in case your annual report discusses technological advances or pivoting to futuristic concepts, your cowl might convey those self same themes visually to assist set the tone or ambiance earlier than readers even see what’s inside.

Annual report design cover example
Annual report design by rombombar

On prime of that, the design of your annual report cowl is a superb branding alternative. As a result of annual reviews are enterprise paperwork, it is sensible to characteristic your emblem and branding visuals prominently. There’s no higher place for these parts than on the duvet, particularly after they may appear out-of-place throughout the textual content.

Final, what’s mistaken with a canopy that simply seems to be good? Studying annual reviews can come throughout as a vital chore greater than one thing enjoyable to do, however a sexy cowl could make studying one appear extra palatable, if not entertaining. Cowl design is an efficient instrument to generate curiosity and assist the reader begin off with the appropriate angle.

Boost visuals with pull-quotes and icons

Annual reviews with all textual content and numbers are exhausting to get by means of. As we talked about above, giant blocks of textual content make it tougher to understand and retain the knowledge. Along with utilizing ample adverse area, you must also break up textual content with visuals. Graphs are excellent for this, however for sections that don’t require visible aids, you’ll be able to nonetheless use pull quotes and icons.

annual report design example of pull quote and icon
From our Design Without Borders 2022 survey

Pull quotes and icons work nicely in each organizing and spacing out content material. You’ll be able to interrupt lengthy blocks of textual content with these visuals to create pure sections with out utilizing a brand new heading or class.

Pull quotes particularly are helpful in highlighting sure info, equivalent to monetary successes or massive new plans. You need to use them strategically to reiterate core info related to your enterprise targets, as we talked about above. Icons are nice for conditions when different visuals gained’t work. They are often fairly obscure and can be utilized for just about any state of affairs. They’re additionally an ideal branding alternative as a result of the visible fashion you select can precisely replicate the tone you’re going for.

Use thrilling types for graphs and charts

Graphs and charts are fairly widespread in annual reviews as a strategy to show empirical knowledge, however that doesn’t imply they should look widespread. Be at liberty to make your graphs visually partaking, equivalent to utilizing vibrant colours or 3D graphics.

Annual report design example of data and icons
From our Design Without Borders 2022 survey

Like icons, graphs and charts are a branding alternative. The fashion they use can assist you affect how your organization comes throughout, equivalent to a futuristic fashion for a technical look, or a extra experimental fashion for an edgy look. It’s additionally an ideal probability to reuse your branding colour scheme to strengthen associations.

Nevertheless, the principle rule for graph and chart visuals is don’t overdo it—overly detailed graphs can distract from the principle message and are available off as complicated. Above all, your visible aids ought to talk the knowledge clearly.

Be in line with branding

Annual reviews are at all times branded paperwork, so don’t draw back from branding design parts. This goes past utilizing your emblem; you wish to make use of your branding colour schemes and typography, in addition to another branded graphics you have got at your disposal.

The colour scheme of your annual report design is sort of vital, as you’ll use accent colours and background colours to enhance readability. It’s finest to stay together with your branding colour scheme for any coloring in your annual report back to reap the benefits of associations—make the report really feel prefer it comes out of your firm even within the elements the place you don’t state it outright.

Annual report design example with consistent branding colors
Annual report design by

Likewise, the fashion of your different visuals, specifically graphs, ought to match the consistency of your different branding parts. For instance, in case your branding persona is enjoyable and informal, you need to use extra playful visuals in your graphs and accompanying footage. In case your model is extra skilled and formal, keep on with conventional types.

The identical goes for the typography you utilize. Whereas the principle physique textual content of your annual report needs to be simple to facilitate legibility, the headings and subheadings have extra leeway for creativity. In case your model has stylized typography, be happy to make use of it there. If not, go forward and experiment with extra attention-grabbing fonts for the headings, so long as they don’t break readability.

Observe present design tendencies to look fashionable

Design tendencies come and go, and folks have an innate capacity to differentiate new tendencies from previous ones. In order for you your organization to seem fashionable, it’s necessary to make use of present design tendencies.

It’s tempting to hold over quite a lot of the identical design parts from one 12 months to the subsequent. In case your annual report design was an enormous hit final 12 months, why not redo it once more this 12 months? The issue, in fact, is that public notion of those visuals has modified; even when they nonetheless look nearly as good as they did final 12 months, they’ll really feel outdated to readers who’ve since turn into accustomed to a complete new set of tendencies.

It’s troublesome to pinpoint precisely what’s fashionable and what’s not. Typically it’s sure colours, different occasions it’s sure shapes, nonetheless different occasions it’s sure fonts. That can assist you out, yearly we publish an inventory of the newest and most current graphic design trends. However take into account that they’re time-sensitive.

Design to impress

Having a powerful annual report design isn’t nearly seems to be—contemplating that quite a lot of readers are present or potential traders, having a powerful annual report design can primarily result in extra incoming cash on your firm.

In fact, you don’t want a flowery annual report design to satisfy the naked minimal necessities, however you may say the identical factor about commercials, web sites or different branded supplies. As branded paperwork, annual reviews present the chance to affect how individuals understand your organization—and that’s a chance you don’t wish to waste!

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