The words “Annual Report” induce visions of books filled to the brim with nauseatingly boring language and an ensuing headache. But it doesn’t have to be that way and in fact, for many companies in 2016, the best annual reports are beautiful works of art. New trends in annual report design focus on recreating the format and content of these documents to engage the audience and humanize the information.
Annual reports used to consist of print brochures or books, then they became interactive PDFs and now the trend is moving toward digital annual reports. The main reason for this is mobile viewing—80% of people use a smartphone to browse the Internet. Putting annual reports online and making them mobile-friendly makes it that much easier for people to reach the information.
The layout is the best way to begin creating an appealing annual report. For digital formats, consider responsive design. Responsive design simply means that the webpage adapts to the size of viewing device. Viewing the same webpage on a computer and mobile phone will yield drastically different results. Oftentimes on a non-responsive site, images will not show, icons are missing and copy is skewed. But with responsive design, those problems are avoided because the design morphs to fit the monitor.
Another unique way to retain attention is to use parallax scrolling. Parallax scrolling means that the background of the webpage moves at a slower rate than the foreground. This creates multidimensional depth for the viewer, adding a different experience to the report. Remember less is more with parallax scrolling; too much can cause disorientation for the viewer.
Perhaps even more important than formatting is content. It won’t matter if Van Gogh created your annual report if there’s no content to support it. And even content is getting an overhaul with the new trends in annual report design. While numbers and projections will always be a staple in annual reports, a few new pieces of content are entering the scene, too.
Movement is the newest direction in annual report design. Whether it’s videos, gifs or animation, digital annual reports are displaying more movement than ever. The reasoning behind this is simple: people are already attracted to images so making those images move means even more attraction and attention. And although stationary, infographics are being used, as well, in order to break down complex information into manageable and compelling visuals. In fact, infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than solely text-based material
The best annual reports tell a story rather than just presenting material. Companies are no longer just reciting facts and figures, but instead taking the audience through an interesting narrative of the past year. This type of presentation promotes more involved engagement in the reader. This also allows the information to be easily digested because participating in storytelling releases endorphins. What could be better than happy employees and clients?
Coinciding with the usual facts, quarterly numbers and market projections, sustainability or corporate social responsibility reports are appearing in annual reports, too. This inclusion serves to humanize the company in the eyes of its employees and stakeholders by demonstrating how the company helps the community outside of regular business requirements.
With the new content and formatting trends in annual report design, your annual report should have a dual purpose; it can serve as a reporting tool and a marketing tool.
Make the most of your work, including your annual reports—print or digital. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service Orlando advertising agency that works with local, national and international clients to deliver impressive ad campaigns, branding, print, web, public relations, social media and video services—all in-house. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your advertising goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or firstname.lastname@example.org