Annual reports: Creating a digital experience

22 February 20227min read
  1. Digital annual reports deliver a different user experience for the online reader. Companies are getting better and innovative.
  2. Dynamic content makes it easier to digest your content and keeps the reader engaged for longer.
  3. Data visualisation allows you to highlight the data that matters and link to related content.
  4. Create movement in your Annual Report by using subtle movements that drive your reader to explore your entire report.
  5. Boost interactivity with a side menu. This makes the report more user friendly.
  6. Mobile responsive Annual Reports are hot reporting trend, which allows the reader to scroll logically through the report.

Your Annual Report is more than just an annual compliance. It is a vital communication tool for your business. It is the opportunity to celebrate your company's successes, showcase your company’s culture and deliver your key messaging to all your organisation's stakeholders. Digitally, your Annual Report becomes far more engaging.

Getting your Annual Report organised can be daunting and of course challenging no matter how many times you’ve delivered it. As a Project Manager you're not only tasked with communicating the right message to your audience but getting these people to read, engage and share your report with others.

The rise of digital annual reports

It's no surprise that traditional, printed Annual Reports are quickly being overshadowed by digital, interactive versions that are not only more engaging, but are an avenue to rapidly increase your readership and overall ROI.

More businesses are now investing in creating digital Annual Reports as more readers turn to digital platforms to consume their content. With digital, Annual Reports can be dramatically transformed to become digital marketing assets that come with all the added benefits that digitalisation offers.

It’s also no surprise that management are in favour of digital Annual Reports as they give your asset and organisational investment more accountability. As a manager, by going digital you can also track and report more easily on your report's performance. This gives you the power to see who is reading your report content, when and from what device. This data is invaluable if you wish to continuously improve your reports performance year on year.

If you need help creating your digital annual report, take a look our annual report packages here.

How to transform your annual report with digital

Digital Annual Reports deliver an entirely different user experience (UX) for the online reader. It creates a platform to captivate, surprise and intrigue your readers with the latest digital functionalities. It seems every year companies are getting better and more innovative in this space.

To ensure you are keeping on trend, my team and I have listed a few ways that you can optimise your report for digital:

1. Dynamic content: You can embed videos, create audio elements, use animations and interactions as an alternative way to show your story as opposed to telling it in slabs of text. This makes it easier for your reader to digest what you have to say. It also keeps your reader engaged for longer.

See how NICEComms used video to captivate their Annual Report:
NICEComms 2021 Annual Report

NICEComms 2021 Annual Report

2. Data visualisation:
Turn your data from static to dynamic with data visualisation. Your digital report allows you to bring to life the data that matters, highlighting it to your readers eye in an engaging way. Digital also allows you to bring depth to your data with links to inspiring blog posts or other related content.

Thirst's work with The University of Melbourne - visualising important information:

University of Melbourne Annual Report 2020

The University of Melbourne Annual Report

3. Create movement: Movement is a big trend in the online space already. Your Annual Report can be made more fun to consume with subtle movements that drive your reader to explore your entire report. See how pharmaceutical giant Roche use movement to create interest.

If you’re like me you’ll find it hard to stop scrolling and exploring this report:

Roche 2020 Annual Report

Roche 2020 Annual Report

4. Boost interactivity: Use of side menu - This is the ability to create a long one page version of the report, split into sections. The reader can navigate through the report's sections easily by clicking the dots on the side menu, and it will auto scroll up and down, making the report more user friendly.

Thirst's work with healthAbility is a perfect example of use of side menu:

healthAbility 2021 Annual Report

healthAbility Annual Report 2021

5. Mobile responsive: Single page Annual Reports are a hot reporting trend. Not just because of the intuitive navigation allowing the reader to scroll logically through the report, but because this makes them highly mobile responsive. With the trends of mobile usage also going up, make sure your Annual Report is ready to be displayed optimally on mobile.

See how Operation Smile use a one page approach:

Operation Smile 2020 Annual Report

Operation Smile 2020 Annual Report

A little goes a long way

While there are endless ways you can present your report with digital, it's important to remember that often less is more. There is a real science into capturing attention and it's important that you find the balance of keeping your audience engaged without distracting or overwhelming them. You still want to ensure your key messages are easily interpreted and received.

“There is a real science into capturing attention and it's important that you find the balance of keeping your audience engaged without distracting or overwhelming them.”

If you need your annual report to go a long way digitally, check out our annual report packages here.

The digital rewards

Beyond the functionality of digital reports, taking your report digital can kick more goals for your company:

  • It’s environmentally sustainable: By taking your report digital you not only save on print costs but you are producing this project in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way.
  • You create an accessible report: With digital you can ensure you’re meeting the AA compliance and deliver a report that is equally accessible for all to consume.
  • You increase your reports availability: Your Annual Report can be optimised to be read on multiple devices. No need to lug around heavy tombs of paper to your next meeting.
  • You have created another marketing asset: It's no secret that Annual Reports are increasingly being used for marketing purposes. But with digital your readers can share your content with hundreds within an instant.

Creating Annual Report templates

Providing an annual report template will save cost and time over the duration of the project because it allows for greater flexibility to be able to reuse the template each year efficiently and can update the information in a quicker manner.

Thirst's Annual Report template for EDVOS:

edvos 20/21 annual report

More information on our Annual Report packages
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