Produce professional out of this world annual reports with these 8 essential design tips
The beginning of the year is a time where people reflect and look back on the last 12 months, this is also the case for businesses – this takes the form of an annual report outlining their findings.
There are plenty of ways you can pump some fun and personality into your reports to bring the highlights of the year to life; it’s a great opportunity to show off and create something engaging that people want to take home and read. Here are some top annual report design tips to get you started…
1 – Understand the content
A designer should never design something without reading and fully understanding the content first. As a designer, your job is to get under the skin of the client, and understand the content and all the different levels of information, in the same way as with an editorial project. Often, the information a designer receives can be jam packed with things that can be difficult to understand; one of the key skills a designer can have is interpreting and visualising this information into something that is easy to understand as well as visually appealing. Ultimately keep things simple with a clear theme and just a few style elements flowing through the report making it an enjoyable and easy read.
2 – Tell a story
Storytelling is essential to a killer annual report and is one of the most important tips to bear in mind. Create a clear journey throughout the report with simple ideas; the report could be picked up by anyone from consumers, shareholders or even stakeholders – you need to engage with all of them; which is not an easy task, but made easier by good design.
3 – Embrace the power of words
There is no point having a beautifully designed annual report with dull and disconnected copy. The best annual reports are the ones where the copywriter has fully immersed themselves with the facts and has produced a compelling story that meets the requirements of the client – without strong content there is nothing for the designer to pull out and bring to life.
Therefore, it is paramount that before you can begin telling the story through the design, you need to identify the key concepts and what the top-level messages are. Only when you have highlighted these, can you begin engaging with them in creative ways.
4 – Ask yourself
Similarly, as a designer you are not an expert across all fields; if you don’t understand what the content supplied is portraying, for example for an infographic, it’s important to ask the client to explain what it’s trying to convey. Ask yourself, ‘Can my mum understand it?’ It’s about bringing content to life in a human, engaging way, with the use of colour, line, type, sleek graphics and illustration to break it down in a digestible manner.
5 – Take a leap
The go to for an annual report design always tends to be form; a lot of annual reports end up being very functional and don’t communicate well. Instead, push for creativity. Come up with a new and exciting theme that will Inspire your client and try something new to set them aside from the competition. Building a relationship with the client early on is key to this happening – this is a valuable skill to have.
6 – Build your foundations
Aim to create layouts that don’t create obstacles but break through and guide the user throughout the report, create layouts that have pace, rhythm and energy. Getting design fundamentals like typefaces, grids and the use of powerful imagery established early on creates foundations that can be built on over years, which you can then build on to create well executed, polished designs.
7 – Type is key
To any fully-fledged designer picking an appropriate typeface is imperative, it is important that the typeface is flexible enough to be scaled up and down, with enough weights to give you a breadth of options – adaptable for both online and print. However, this doesn’t mean the typeface must be boring, it just means high levels of craft and attention to detail are required.
8 – Cover all senses
An annual report is all about showing of a company’s key achievements throughout the year, therefore it is vital that attention to detail such as the choice of paper and production techniques are explored. When it comes to digital reports, be as creative as possible, there are numerous tools to create an engaging experience. With an online report, you have more opportunity to engage using video, interactive infographics or augmented reality, which can bring things to life and ultimately exceed client expectations.