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

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Design works greatest to impress! It’s principally related to a brand or web site design when firms must impress new prospects or clientele, however design nonetheless applies to less-visible paperwork. Take annual stories, 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!
Under, we focus on what makes the perfect design of annual stories, and supply suggestions to assist create spectacular stories. However first, let’s discuss just a little in regards to the goal of annual stories and why they profit from superb designs.
Illustration by OrangeCrush

What’s an annual report?

Annual report design by FIATX19
Also referred to as “yearly statements” or “statements of knowledge,” annual stories are a written account of an organization’s efficiency for that 12 months. Whereas their purpose is to instill confidence in present shareholders and future traders, in lots of states they’re additionally a authorized requirement.
Annual stories usually embrace a letter from the highest government (i.e., president or CEO), a enterprise profile with an organization’s normal data, fiscal statements for the 12 months and a dialogue or evaluation, which normally entails a forecast for the longer term.
Likewise, survey stories are written in the identical fashion. Survey stories additionally purpose to disseminate data to stakeholders and events; as an alternative of monetary data, nonetheless, they focus on the outcomes of a selected survey or questionnaire. In each circumstances, the purpose of design is to make the in any other case dense knowledge extra digestible and simpler to grasp.

Do you want a design of an annual report?

Should you offered all the knowledge of an annual report straight, with no visuals and no consideration for structure, it could be, at greatest, boring. Even when your yearly income soared, it could be troublesome to get stakeholders excited with solely black and white numbers on a web page.
The design of an annual report just isn’t essential to share the knowledge, however it’s essential to communication, not simply to make it fascinating, however to make that data 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 attempting to do. Annual stories have the potential to be extra than simply monetary paperwork, they will encourage and generate enthusiasm—and contemplating the content material, that additional enthusiasm may result in extra investments.
Given the excessive stakes of annual stories, it’s not unusual for firms to rent an expert designer so as to add some aptitude. If, nonetheless, you’d prefer to design your personal annual report, listed below are some useful suggestions.

Greatest 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 a number of necessary data, so you could arrange it in a manner 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 knowledge 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 stories, as a result of some readers will solely be eager about one or two components, 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 decide and select which components 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 eager about specific components.
Annual report design by Graphicsview
On the subject of 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 value it to present respiratory room to the textual content and figures.
Cramming phrases and knowledge collectively not solely makes it more durable to learn, however it additionally makes the knowledge more durable to retain. Spacing parts out with loads of empty house in between makes it simpler for the reader to grasp what’s in entrance of them and finally helps them keep in mind it later. That applies to each textual content and visible aids like graphs.

Be intentional with what’s included

There’s a number of data that’s acceptable in annual stories and even survey stories, however that doesn’t imply you must embrace all the pieces. You’re free to select and select which matters you focus on and what you point out, so be intentional with what passes the bar.
We’re not suggesting you disguise the unflattering information. Quite, ignore the pointless matters that don’t actually add to the dialogue or present useful insights. Your organization’s personal enterprise objectives ought to decide what will get probably the most protection in annual stories.
For instance, should you’re in search of extra PR placement, embrace compelling or sensational data that’s simple to publicize. Should you’d desire a conventional state-of-the-company report, concentrate on knowledge, graphs, and statistics that reveal 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 lavatory down the survey and distract from the extra necessary points.

Spare no expense on the duvet

Although well-intentioned, the outdated adage “don’t choose a guide 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 objectives.
For one factor, the duvet of your annual report can introduce themes and put together folks for what’s inside. For instance, if one specific product had an distinctive 12 months, you may contemplate 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 may convey those self same themes visually to assist set the tone or environment earlier than readers even see what’s inside.
Annual report design by rombombar
On prime of that, the design of your annual report cowl is a good branding alternative. As a result of annual stories are enterprise paperwork, it is smart to function your brand and branding visuals prominently. There’s no higher place for these parts than on the duvet, particularly once they might sound out-of-place throughout the textual content.
Final, what’s flawed with a canopy that simply seems to be good? Studying annual stories can come throughout as a essential chore greater than one thing enjoyable to do, however a gorgeous 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 proper angle.

Boost visuals with pull-quotes and icons

Annual stories with all textual content and numbers are laborious to get by. As we talked about above, giant blocks of textual content make it more durable to grasp and retain the knowledge. Along with utilizing ample detrimental house, you also needs to break up textual content with visuals. Graphs are excellent for this, however for sections that don’t require visible aids, you may nonetheless use pull quotes and icons.
From our Design With out 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 data, akin to monetary successes or huge new plans. You need to use them strategically to reiterate core data related to your enterprise objectives, as we talked about above. Icons are nice for conditions when different visuals received’t work. They are often fairly obscure and can be utilized for just about any state of affairs. They’re additionally a terrific branding alternative as a result of the visible fashion you select can precisely replicate the tone you’re going for.

Use thrilling kinds for graphs and charts

Graphs and charts are fairly frequent in annual stories as a solution to show empirical knowledge, however that doesn’t imply they need to look frequent. Be happy to make your graphs visually partaking, akin to utilizing vibrant colours or 3D graphics.
From our Design With out Borders 2022 survey
Like icons, graphs and charts are a branding alternative. The fashion they use may also help you affect how your organization comes throughout, akin to a futuristic fashion for a technical look, or a extra experimental fashion for an edgy look. It’s additionally a terrific likelihood 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 step with branding

Annual stories are all the time branded paperwork, so don’t draw back from branding design parts. This goes past utilizing your brand; you wish to make use of your branding colour schemes and typography, in addition to every other branded graphics you could have at your disposal.
The colour scheme of your annual report design is sort of important, as you’ll use accent colours and background colours to enhance readability. It’s greatest to stay along 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 components the place you don’t state it outright.
Annual report design by
Likewise, the fashion 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 should utilize extra playful visuals in your graphs and accompanying footage. In case your model is extra skilled and formal, persist with conventional kinds.
The identical goes for the typography you employ. Whereas the principle physique textual content of your annual report must be simple to facilitate legibility, the headings and subheadings have extra leeway for creativity. In case your model has stylized typography, be at liberty 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 wreck readability.

Comply with present design traits to look trendy

Design traits come and go, and folks have an innate capacity to differentiate new traits from outdated ones. In order for you your organization to seem trendy, it’s necessary to make use of present design traits.
It’s tempting to hold over a number of the identical design parts from one 12 months to the following. In case your annual report design was a giant 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 an entire new set of traits.
It’s troublesome to pinpoint precisely what’s stylish and what’s not. Generally it’s sure colours, different instances it’s sure shapes, nonetheless different instances it’s sure fonts. That can assist you out, yearly we publish an inventory of the latest and most present graphic design traits. However needless to say they’re time-sensitive.

Design to impress

Having a powerful annual report design isn’t nearly seems to be—contemplating that a number of readers are present or potential traders, having a powerful annual report design can basically result in extra incoming cash in your firm.
In fact, you don’t want a flowery annual report design to satisfy the naked minimal necessities, however you could possibly say the identical factor about commercials, web sites or different branded supplies. As branded paperwork, annual stories present the chance to affect how folks understand your organization—and that’s a possibility you don’t wish to waste!

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