Your financial data tells a unique story. It reveals insights about your business performance and growth. And now that many companies are entering financial report season, you may be thinking about how you want to show and share that data — in an infographic, an interactive landing page, a white paper, or another visual format.
If your financial reports tend to follow the same format each year, your audience may not engage with them the way you want them to. Why? Reports that rely on text and complex tables require a lot of concentration from your readers. So there’s a danger that your most compelling data will get skimmed over or missed completely. It may be time to give your financial report a visual update.
Read on to learn how to create an infographic that turns your financial report into a compelling and memorable story.
Embrace the Power of Data Visualizations
It all starts with your data. Most financial reports are pretty complex. The ideal report will contain a wealth of information, highlighting patterns and insights throughout. That’s why data visualizations are the essential building blocks to a successful infographic report. They make data easy to understand at a glance.
Your first priority should always be to show your data accurately. So first, make sure to review the basic rules of data visualization.. For each piece of data, some visualizations will work and some won’t. (Hint: not all percentages should be shown as pie charts.)
Then think about which visualization techniques will aid your reader. Where should they be making connections? Which numbers might they want to compare? Make sure those numbers are consistently presented side-by-side. This annual report for the Marguerite Casey Foundation presents a large amount of data with sharp data visualizations and a layout that is easy to navigate:
With high-contrast colors and clear comparisons, these data visualizations stand out and help readers interpret the information.
You’ll notice that this infographic-inspired design is actually presented in the form of a booklet for print. But there are plenty of other formatting options to choose from. Check out this interactive annual report for Bluetooth, for example. Consider how you’d like to distribute your report before deciding which medium is right for you.
Tell a Visual Story
Infographics turn your data into a concrete visual story, keeping your audience engaged. To create a successful infographic, you need to find that story. Try thinking about your data from an outside perspective. Does a clear narrative emerge? What style of visuals will harmonize with your brand and enhance that message?
This annual report for Ablynx uses photography of 3D printed graphs and charts:
Subtle shadows and angles show off the 3D infographics, even though the report is printed. Miniature plastic figures are posed interacting with the models, creating a world of data for readers to enter and explore.
If you choose to work with an infographic company, make sure they understand your brand and the message your data sends. Discuss potential visual metaphors. Brainstorm ways to weave narrative elements into the infographic-inspired visuals of your financial report.
Create a Visual Hierarchy
Want your key data points to stand out? An infographic can guide the eye and establish a clear visual hierarchy of your data’s relative importance. On every page or screen, your reader should be able to immediately find the most essential data.
Scale, weight, and color of different elements will help to establish this hierarchy for your financial report. Infographic elements help guide the reader through information in this report for Deloitte:
Although this report contains a fair amount of text, a clear visual hierarchy helps readers to navigate the information, and see what’s truly important.
Organize into Visual Sections
A well-written, custom-designed infographic tells a clear story in reader-friendly sections. Even if the report is only a few pages long, readers are more likely to read from cover to cover if it’s divided into clear sections.
Sections act like checkpoints for the reader. They lead readers step-by-step through your report. Sections can also provide contrast. As you create your financial report, infographic elements should be used to make each section unique. Draw your reader’s eye into the next section with a new kind of data visualization or a different layout.
Another advantage of breaking your financial report into sections is that they can be used as visual assets for other types of content. You can select sections to pull out for your next internal presentation or shareholder communication.
Strong contrasting colors distinguish unique pages and topics. The variety of data visualizations hint to the reader that each new section will showcase a new insight.
The Versatility of a Financial Report Infographic
With a well-designed infographic, your company’s financial reports and communications can be much more engaging. A visual financial report also lets you pull out individual sections for use in other mediums, such as internal presentations and social-media posts.
With a strong foundation of data visualization and a design that channels your brand, your next financial report will become a versatile asset you can use throughout the year.