5 ingredients of an annual report design that rocks

Great annual report design

Annual report design. You might think it’s yawn-worthy but it’s something we find really fun. Why? Because we like the challenge of taking what is usually a very dry document, and using great design to make the content more appealing and easier to process.

Making things more fun (for us) is the fact that, in this day and age where it’s more likely an Annual Report will be emailed to stakeholders as a pdf than printed out, we designers are freed from trying to cram 100 pages of content into 60 pages to save on printing costs. We’re able to use as many pages as we like to present the information contained in the report.

Which means we’re able to implement all five ingredients of an annual report design that rocks:

1. White space

Oh white space, we love you so much. You make every design better.

What is whitespace? No, it’s not just the white bits on a page. It’s the space between all the elements on a page.

  • Between a photo and its caption.
  • Between a heading and the edge of a page.
  • Between a heading and the first line of text.

You get the picture.

When whitespace is deployed effectively it:

  • Lets all elements on a page breathe.
  • Reduces tension between elements.
  • Allows the most important things come to the fore.
  • Enhances the balance and harmony of the design.

If you give your designer license to use as many pages as they like in pursuit of a beautiful design, they can leverage white space to great effect.

Whitespace is important in annual report design


2. Beautiful imagery

Annual reports tend to be very text heavy documents so anything that breaks up the text is a gift. Imagery is great but quite often client-provided imagery is pretty average and frankly, we’d rather use no images than average images. When there is beautiful imagery available, however, it really makes a huge difference to the design.

Annual report design - good imagery

Great imagery makes for beautiful annual reports

3. Clear presentation of data

Annual reports are also generally very data heavy, and when people see numbers, they tend to skim over them. Which is a shame – after all, someone spent a lot of time and effort compiling that data! Creating bespoke graphs and presenting figures in a visually appealing way ensures that hard work does not go unrewarded!

Clear data presentation is important in annual reports

4. Highlight boxes (and even pages)

In every annual report there are wins to be celebrated. Don’t bury those deep in a slab of text, bring them up to the surface using highlight boxes and loooooots of whitespace.

Highlight important achievements in annual reports

5. Stay on brand

Resist the temptation to copy what someone else has done. If your designer knows what they’re doing, they’ll be able to deliver you something that looks as good as the next guy’s annual report design, while supporting and enhancing your organisation’s brand.

Stay on brand with your annual report design

The final word

The main goal of an annual report is to keep key stakeholders informed about your organisation’s activities and financials. A subtler goal is to make key stakeholders proud to be part of your organisation.

If your designer brings all five elements above to their design of your annual report – you’ll be well on your way to ticking both these boxes with aplomb!

{Image credits: all images used in this post are examples of Annual Reports we have designed}

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.