You've worked hard all year to make your organization's annual report a success. It's full of charts, graphs, pie charts, and interesting facts… But are you sure it has that WOW factor? Here are ten ways to add that element of excitement for your readers.
Here are ten things to keep in mind when you're designing your own annual report:
1. Presentation is everything in your annual financial statement
If you want the reader to pay attention and be impressed by what they read, it would help if you were as well-presented as your information. Make sure the text is easy to read and visually appealing.
The photos and graphics should be clear, uncluttered, and fit with the overall theme. And please resist those old-fashioned annual report staples like the letter from the president, speaker's note, and “business as usual” photos!
2. Your annual statement should have a message
It may help if you were trained as a designer before tackling your first annual report. If not, take a course or have someone show you how to do it properly. You'll be amazed at how many good ideas come from being able to lay things out on paper without worrying about costs and printing deadlines. One simple idea can make all the difference.
3. Don't go overboard with the target annual report
Don't use too many fonts or colors in one place because it will just look messy and confusing to the reader. Stick with two or three fonts that match for headlines, subheads, and body copy.
And not everything needs to be in color; you'll probably only need one or two accent colors to frame the text.
4. Brief is better than long
Readers don't want wordy reports anymore so keep your content short and sweet! Get to the point quickly with an eye-catching, bold subhead telling readers what they can expect to find inside.
5. Make your company financial statements interactive
People love interactivity these days so consider adding links, videos, audio files, and other digital goodies that can't easily be printed. These extras will definitely give your annual report that wow factor! Just make sure all computer platforms are compatible before you go overboard on this one!
Need to make an amazing interactive report? Look no further than Venngage, the top report and flow chart maker! Use their thousands of templates to make your kick-ass report.
6. Think about the environment
Going green is a hot topic, so it would be great if your annual report were printed on recycled paper and used only eco-friendly soy ink. And who knows? Maybe that new, super-thin laptop you bought can print double-sided.
7. Don't skimp on quality
If you want the reader to download your reports, send them out as attachments or post them online, don't waste money on cheap photocopies! Invest in high-quality PDFs and make sure they're compatible with the latest versions of software like Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office before sending them out. (And use those nifty hyperlinks!)
No one likes those annoying pop-ups asking if they really want to open something from an unknown source.
8. Keep it simple
Your readers are busy people so make sure they can read your annual report in under thirty minutes with just one cup of coffee. If they have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what's going on, then you've failed as a designer!
Make all charts and graphs easy to understand without spoon-feeding the reader the information. And if you're including photos, please resist making them two inches high by two feet long! Be kind – keep them small!
9. Speak the language of the audience
This may seem strange for most non-profits who probably speak with an educational or academic tone in their reports but don't forget that these documents are aimed at “the masses” (i.e., donors, members, and clients) so they need to be easy to understand by anyone.
It will help you reach your audience if you speak like a normal person with no big words or lofty concepts. And please think twice before using abbreviations for everything!
10. Practice makes perfect
You'd be surprised how many mistakes can sneak into an annual report with all the text and graphics crammed together in one place. So make sure you proofread everything yourself before sending it out (or better yet, get someone else to do it!).
11. Advice from the Greats
Find a quote from well-known people in your industry and include it in each section of the annual report. This is a simple but effective way to add value, by showing how other professionals have approached similar challenges or opportunities…
Make it easy for readers to understand your message by sticking to the basics and thinking outside the box. Don't be afraid to experiment with fresh ideas but remember to keep it simple so you don't overwhelm your audience. Make your annual report as interactive as possible through interactivity, multimedia, hyperlinks, or other digital goodies.
Try printing on recycled paper or using soy ink for a greener impact! Finally, make sure all computer platforms are compatible before going overboard with digital content and proofread everything yourself before sending it out.
Don't forget that these documents are aimed at “the masses” (i.e., donors, members, and clients) so they need to be easy to understand by anyone. It will help you reach your audience if you speak like a normal person with no big words or lofty concepts.