While they contain vital information, even the most diligent reader can have difficulty sustaining concentration while wading through line after line of information. Retention can suffer as a result.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem: Creative annual report design. By presenting relevant information in an engagingly creative format, you can help readers stay focused, better understand the material and then retain what they’ve read.
Six Elements of creative annual report design
Nobody likes wading through blocks of featureless, jargon-heavy text. Yet that’s too often what we find in annual report design. To help keep things fresh and appealing, let’s take a look at some common creative elements you can incorporate into your next report:
1. Commit to a more visual approach. This is a fundamental first step toward overhauling your design. It should start with your cover photo or graphic; use something truly eye-catching to grab the reader’s attention right away. Incorporate visual design elements throughout your report to help offset word-heavy sections. Remember, today’s readers and viewers have become conditioned to videos, infographics, etc. Wading through an annual report that appears to be preserved in amber from the 1950s is a guaranteed engagement killer.
2. Use punchy and concise subheads, bullet lists, and other elements to break up text blocks. Readers don’t like long winding paragraphs — unless they’re reading 19th century Russian literature. Make your copy digestible.
3. Consider your narrative. What story is your business telling about itself this year? What’s the best way to lay out that story? How can you best use visuals to support and explain that narrative? Consider weaving in historical information about your company via the use of sidebars.
4. Data visualization. We mentioned infographics earlier. Annual reports are data-rich documents and graphics are a key tool in making critical information stand out. Research also shows infographics help readers learn and retain more efficiently.
5. Think about the medium. You don’t have to publish on glossy paper — many organizations choose to use websites or other, more interactive mediums for annual reports.
6. Master white space. Remember, heavy text is an engagement killer. Creative use of white space makes information more digestible — and also makes your aesthetics much more appealing.
Your annual report design doesn’t have to be a dry and dull affair. Consider implementing the ideas we’ve listed above to freshen up your report and keep your readers engaged.
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