3 Tips for the Best Annual Report Design

best annual report ebook design

Businesses across all industries were affected by the events of 2020. Some suffered due to the widespread effects of the pandemic, while others flourished in finding new opportunities; some simply couldn’t weather the changes and closed, while others saw the year as the right time to start a new venture. For businesses that have survived or even thrived in 2020, it’s critical to document the experience. Further, reflecting on how your business performed in a period of serious upheaval will strengthen your business planning and marketing strategy for 2021. But where to start? One of the best ways to collect and analyze your year is to design an annual report. 

If you’re wondering whether anyone even reads annual reports anymore, you’re right to ask. Text-heavy reports are indeed a thing of the past. That’s because annual reports that rely on visual content are proven to more easily grab audiences’ attention and better communicate information. Pages upon pages of only text, meanwhile, will surely be overlooked. 

So here are 3 of the best strategies for creating an annual report design that your audiences actually will want to look through.

1. Build Your Annual Report Design Around Visual Content

aerial view of a designer's desktop with hand on mouse pen and design tools

We said it above, and we’ll say it again. If your annual report design is all text, you’ve already lost your audience. Similarly, if you’re just pasting charts and graphs from spreadsheets into your report, you’re not doing much more to intrigue your viewers. That’s because stock imagery is typically ignored

However, custom and compelling visuals such as data visualizations, illustrations, icons, and custom photography will create an inviting, effective, and memorable experience. It’s true — text paired with imagery improves comprehension up to 89%. So use the power of visual communication to your advantage.

2. Explore Unique Formats

best types of content for a visual communication campaign with annual report social media data visualization

An annual report doesn’t need to be a printed book, nor a downloadable PDF design. It can be a microsite, letting users explore the sections of content that interest them most. Or it can be an animated video series, each video focusing on a unique aspect of the business. 

In fact, an annual report can be a slide deck, an ebook, or just about any other form of creative content you can think of. As long as the medium is chosen intentionally for your industry and your audience, the possibilities are endless. 

Check out our Visual Annual Report Crash Course for examples of unique annual reports in action.

Curious what visual communication can do for you?

3. Choose the Best Annual Report Design for Each Audience

Do you need a single report, or multiple annual reports? The answer lies in how many audiences you need to reach, and in whether the level of disclosure changes for that audience. For example, you’ll generally share different financial insights with investors than you will with your customers. 

Take a look at everyone who will be seeking insights about your company this year. Then develop a unique approach for each of them. To be sure, you can reuse many elements across these multiple reports. However, the information you share in each annual report may be different. Likewise, the best design approach for each audience will be different, too.


As you look ahead to 2021, what can you take away from this year’s experiences, and what will you do differently next year? Whether 2020 was a tough year for your business or a surprising success, make sure to track the lessons you learned with an annual report this year.

Lucy Todd

Author Lucy Todd

Lucy Todd is the Chief Process Officer at Killer Visual Strategies. She is a Seattle native and Western Washington University graduate. Her degree in Creative Writing and her customer service background both inform her work daily. A Killer employee since 2011 and executive since 2014, Lucy has researched for, written, and/or project-managed over 4,000 projects for the company, affording her key insight into our processes and projects. This experience is invaluable in allowing her to lead and empower Killer’s content and project management teams to success. Lucy enjoys managing the day-to-day at the office, offering a unique perspective when a team or colleague feels stuck, and learning from her peers and clients each day.

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