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4 sure-fire ways to take your annual report to the next level

How do we move the humble annual report from tired, required reading to an effective and interesting way to engage with stakeholders?
Hollie Newborough-Fox

Hollie Newborough-Fox

3 minute read
March 17, 2023
How do we move the humble annual report from tired, required reading to an effective and interesting way to engage with stakeholders?
4 sure-fire ways to take your annual report to the next level Image

A well-designed annual report can be used to create meaningful connections with your stakeholders, as well as being a key part of responsible and accountable reporting. Instead of simply laying out the facts and figures, why not try these new and innovative new ways to bring them to life? Here are four of our favourites…


Tell a story

This bit comes before we even think about what your annual report will look like! When it comes to presenting the narrative of your annual report, ask yourself: what are the key messages I want people to take from this? By encouraging yourself to view your annual report as a story about the journey of the last 12 months, as opposed to formal requirement, you can start to engage more effectively with your intended audience.

Establishing the ‘beginning, middle and end’ of your annual report gives more structure to the content and gives your creative team permission to identify important sections, key data, and valuable quotes to highlight throughout the document.

We recently wrote about how to tell your sustainability story, if you’re looking for some tips on how to move to a ‘narrative’ mindset.


Use infographics

Did you know that a good-quality infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article? Using infographics isn’t just a way to make your report look more dynamic and engaging, but they’re an invaluable tool for bringing the most important data to life. When done with real creative flair, they can transform key facts and figures into eye-catching visuals.

For our client, Trussell Trust, we created combined illustration and a unique infographic style to bring their survey results and reporting to life3805 Trussell Trust Food Bank Survey Mockup

Infographics are also a helpful resource for sharing your report in different environments or platforms. We can design infographics in a way that can be easily repurposed for smaller graphics and used in company presentations or social media posts, for example. This makes communicating your report to different stakeholders both more efficient and adaptable to suit your audience.

Take a look at our blog on data visualisation for more inspiration.


Create a clean, clear and accessible experience

Take user experience to the next level by considering how you can make your annual report and supporting documents as accessible as possible. For most public and third sector organisations, not only is accessibility crucial, it’s quickly becoming a requirement.

Clean, minimalist layouts increasingly popular across digital assets and websites and have the added benefit of putting greater focus on user experience rather than flashy graphics. Minimising visual complexity within your design can provide wider visual accessibility – while still creating something compelling and effective.

We’ve worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to create fully accessible annual reports in both English and Welsh. The reports are all compliant with WCAG 2.1 AA standards, making them inclusive and accessible to all. Visually we followed best practice when it came to font size, text placement, colour contrasts and white space. From a technical perspective, the digital documents included clickable links to make them easy to navigate. They were also compatible with screen readers. You can check out the reports for yourself here.


Still a bit unsure on accessibility guidance? Download our free eBook for a detailed look at accessible design.


Include an accompanying film

Whatever your organisation does, the odds are that you’ll have several members within your stakeholder audience who are incredibly time poor. Finding time to read through an annual report could be a barrier to accessing the most important information. Summarising the key findings of your report into a short video not only makes your report quickly digestible but it also makes it much more shareable.

We did exactly this for climate action NGO, WRAP when designing their 2020 annual report – the most successful financial year in their 21-year history. The video itself was just two minutes in length and used a mixture of simple animated graphics, icons, text, and stock imagery. The video is still being widely shared online today and can be viewed in full below.


If you found this article interesting, why not also check out our blog on making your cause matter to your audience?