Let's face it, putting together annual reports can be a bit of a drag.
But it doesn't have to be.
With the rise of no-code website builders (which allows users without any coding experience to use a product for their needs), coming up with ideas and building stunning interactive annual reports has never been easier.
This article shows you how to turn your annual reports from so-so to absolute showstoppers.
First things first…
The steps to build your annual reports
Create a checklist
Before you start considering a format for your annual report, you first need to create a checklist to build it.
First, you need to decide on the purpose of your report. Decide on which topics and information you want to lay out in your annual report, then think about which interactive/design elements need to be included, and so forth.
This is a good time to double-check with key stakeholders exactly how they want the look and feel of the report to be.
Know your audience
Ask yourself, who is the report aimed at, and what are their priorities and interests? Will one report suit all the intended recipients, or will you need to create different versions?
Create an outline of your annual report
To ensure your information is presented clearly, make sure to include the following:
- A title. A short sentence that sets out the goals and/or focus of the report.
- An executive summary. Which includes an overview of the topic, data obtained, and findings or recommendations.
- A table of contents. Which includes links to the different sections.
- An introduction. A brief explanation of what the reader can expect from the report and why it should be of interest.
- The main content of the report.
- The conclusion. Which includes recommendations if appropriate.
- References, keys, and appendices.
Start the report
Begin creating your report, keeping in mind that it should be a great content experience.
Edit and proofread your report
Ask several trusted colleagues or stakeholders to proofread and give feedback on the annual report and make any amends.
Why you should look at web-based publications for your reports
How many reports have you seen that were just a collection of static facts and figures with a long summary of a company's achievements?
While the information may be handy, it doesn't make for the most engaging reading experience.
Imagine turning your annual report ideas into something more artistic and interactive.
That’s where a digital content format could turn things around.
Not sure what this looks like or how to use it as a resource? No problem, here's what you need to know.
Interactive web publications provide a better way to showcase your best content. With web publications, you don't have to add another page or post to your website, instead, you have your own URL that creates a dedicated space for your important content assets. This allows Neat, right?
With the right content creation platform, you can create visually immersive experiences for your audience, build narratives better and bring your content, products, and services to life.
How the world of responsive web design benefits your annual reports
Navigable and linear flow
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at pages (and pages) of a static report.
Let’s look at a PDF format. It could really benefit from a web publication’s linear flow and self-contained format.
For example, consider converting your product's user manual into a responsive web publication. Your customers will find it much easier to work with — especially on mobile.
That’s the beauty of web publications, they're designed to work across electronic devices.
So when coming up with your annual report ideas, keep navigation and responsiveness top of mind to give your readers ease of use and a pleasant experience overall.
Present your annual report in a fresh way
Your readers are looking for fresh and imaginative ways for you to present information that may be data-heavy. You don't always have to resort to basic data tables or pie charts.
Here’s another annual report idea for you. Consider turning your readers into active participants as they move through the story with scroll-telling techniques, full-with video background, and visually immersive elements they have never seen on an annual report before.
Having a hard time visualizing what I'm saying? Check out our Foleon End of Year report that we put out in 2021 as a source of inspiration.
This was a ridiculously fun report to work on with my peers. We wanted it to be digestible, humorous, and have an impactful look. You’ll find examples of animations, overlays, scrolled trigger effect, seamless navigation, and visual storytelling techniques deployed throughout that creates an action-packed reader experience.
More visual storytelling techniques to boost your reader's experience
Visual storytelling is fast becoming more prominent as readers’ attention spans shorten. According to Microsoft, the human attention span has dropped to eight seconds, meaning storytelling has never been more important.
To ensure you capture your readers' attention when it comes to showcasing your achievements, highlights of the year, and your future goals, consider combining different types of media to tell your story visually appealingly.
So, consider incorporating images, videos, audio, or even 3D animations to create an immersive content experience that draws readers in and makes them want to explore further.
Another cool idea for your annual reports is creating rich illustrated worlds where readers go on a “visual journey” with animated characters as they move through the report.
Take a look at our interactive guide, which includes our very own animated characters explaining what a Foleon Doc is.
Here are some examples of our favourite interactive web-based annual reports, for you to get inspired by.
See your annual report ideas come to life with no code required
With annual reports season just around the corner, report building is probably very much on your mind. But as I said at the beginning of this article, it doesn't have to be a drag.
Consider looking at a content creation platform that includes a visual drag-and-drop editor and a library of customizable templates, making it easier to build your own immersive annual report experience.
We hope you can approach ‘that time of year again’, with drive rather than dread with our suggestions.