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

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

Beneath, we talk about what makes the very best design of annual studies, and supply suggestions to assist create spectacular studies. However first, let’s discuss a bit of concerning the function of annual studies 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

Also referred to as “yearly statements” or “statements of data,” annual studies are a written account of an organization’s efficiency for that yr. Whereas their purpose is to instill confidence in present shareholders and future buyers, in lots of states they’re additionally a authorized requirement.

Annual studies sometimes embody a letter from the highest government (i.e., president or CEO), a enterprise profile with an organization’s commonplace info, fiscal statements for the yr and a dialogue or evaluation, which normally includes a forecast for the longer term.

Likewise, survey studies are written in the identical model. Survey studies additionally purpose to disseminate info to stakeholders and events; as an alternative of monetary info, nevertheless, they talk about the outcomes of a selected survey or questionnaire. In each circumstances, the objective 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 data of an annual report straight, with no visuals and no consideration for structure, it might be, at finest, boring. Even when your yearly earnings soared, it might be troublesome to get stakeholders excited with solely black and white numbers on a web page.

The design of an annual report will not be essential to share the data, however it’s essential to communication, not simply to make it fascinating, however to make that info simpler to course of. An annual report design performs a big position in segmenting the information, 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 buyers on board with what your organization is attempting to do. Annual studies have the potential to be extra than simply monetary paperwork, they’ll encourage and generate enthusiasm—and contemplating the content material, that further enthusiasm might result in extra investments.

Given the excessive stakes of annual studies, it’s not unusual for firms 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 suggestions.

Finest suggestions for yours annual report design

Use layouts to interrupt up sections and keep away from crowding

A correct structure is crucial to annual report design. You’re presenting numerous vital info, so you must set up it in a method that’s accessible and straightforward 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 data so it doesn’t overwhelm the reader by coming . Second, it makes your annual report simple to scan; that’s a giant assist for annual studies, as a result of some readers will solely be all for 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 all for explicit elements.

Annual report design example
Annual report design by Graphicsview

With regards to the visible structure, use ample detrimental house, in any other case generally known as “white house” or just “empty house.” Whereas detrimental house 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 data tougher to retain. Spacing parts out with loads of empty house in between makes it simpler for the reader to understand what’s in entrance of them and in the end 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 numerous info that’s acceptable in annual studies and even survey studies, however that doesn’t imply it’s best to embody all the things. You’re free to choose and select which matters you talk about and what you point out, so be intentional with what passes the bar.

We’re not suggesting you conceal the unflattering information. Relatively, ignore the pointless matters 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 studies.

For instance, in the event you’re searching for extra PR placement, embody compelling or sensational info that’s simple to publicize. For those who’d want a conventional state-of-the-company report, give attention to knowledge, graphs, and statistics that display 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 matters that want probably the most readability. Together with questions you already know the reply to simply bathroom down the survey and distract from the extra vital points.

Spare no expense on the duvet

Although well-intentioned, the outdated adage “don’t decide a ebook by its cowl” is a bit misguided. The design of an annual report cowl isn’t only for appears to be like, it might 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 yr, you would possibly 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 environment 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 studies are enterprise paperwork, it is smart to characteristic your emblem and branding visuals prominently. There’s no higher place for these parts than on the duvet, particularly once they may appear out-of-place inside the textual content.

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

Boost visuals with pull-quotes and icons

Annual studies with all textual content and numbers are onerous to get by means of. As we talked about above, giant blocks of textual content make it tougher to understand and retain the data. Along with utilizing ample detrimental house, you also needs to break up textual content with visuals. Graphs are good for this, however for sections that don’t require visible aids, you may 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 may 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, reminiscent of monetary successes or huge new plans. You should utilize them strategically to reiterate core info related to your small business targets, as we talked about above. Icons are nice for conditions when different visuals received’t work. They are often fairly imprecise and can be utilized for nearly any state of affairs. They’re additionally an incredible branding alternative as a result of the visible model you select can precisely replicate the tone you’re going for.

Use thrilling types for graphs and charts

Graphs and charts are fairly frequent in annual studies as a technique to show empirical knowledge, however that doesn’t imply they should look frequent. Be at liberty to make your graphs visually partaking, reminiscent of 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 model they use may also help you affect how your organization comes throughout, reminiscent of a futuristic model for a technical look, or a extra experimental model for an edgy look. It’s additionally an incredible probability to reuse your branding colour scheme to strengthen associations.

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

Be according to branding

Annual studies are all the time 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 some other branded graphics you’ve 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 model of your different visuals, particularly 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 photos. In case your model is extra skilled and formal, persist with conventional types.

The identical goes for the typography you employ. Whereas the primary physique textual content of your annual report must be easy 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 smash readability.

Comply with present design tendencies to look fashionable

Design tendencies come and go, and other people have an innate potential to differentiate new tendencies from outdated ones. In order for you your organization to look fashionable, it’s vital to make use of present design tendencies.

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

It’s troublesome to pinpoint precisely what’s fashionable and what’s not. Generally it’s sure colours, different instances it’s sure shapes, nonetheless different instances it’s sure fonts. That will help you out, yearly we publish a listing 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 appears to be like—contemplating that numerous readers are present or potential buyers, having a powerful annual report design can basically result in extra incoming cash to your firm.

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

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