No matter what industry you’re in, tracking your progress and collecting key data is essential to driving business growth. That’s why so many organizations create annual reports — but many of those reports lack critical visual components. 

Raw data is almost impossible to analyze in spreadsheet form. And with the huge quantities of big data that organizations today are compiling, this is more true than ever. That’s what makes data visualization one of the most critical tools in business today. No annual report is complete without visual representations of the data you’ve collected about growth, sales, distribution, financials, and other metrics relevant to your business. 

But data visualization isn’t the only type of visual content that businesses today are including in their annual reports. From illustrations to icons to infographic-inspired layouts that are carefully arranged to tell a story, today’s best annual report designs are more dynamic than ever. Why? Because visual content communicates 60,000x faster than text. So if your customers are demanding that you speak visually, why wouldn’t you expect your employees, board members, and shareholders to do the same? 

You want an annual report that helps you recognize patterns and opportunities. You want a report that will impress your bosses and other stakeholders. You want a report that they’ll remember later, and use to drive business decisions. As you can imagine, designing such a report isn’t exactly easy. 

We’re here to help. In this crash course, we’ll offer up key resources for marketers, internal comms and HR professionals, business leaders, and designers. These comprise the best articles, how-tos, and examples we could find — both from Killer and from around the web. It’s everything you need to know about creating great visual annual reports, all in one place. Let’s take a look.

Top Articles: How to Create Engaging Visual Annual Reports

Check out these articles to learn more about how to produce a highly engaging visual annual report.

Why Your Next Annual Report Should Be Visual

Visual annual report statistic and data visualization

Still not convinced that your annual report needs to have visual components? Read this compelling argument in favor of including data visualization, illustrations, icons, and more in your next report.

The 8 Best Strategies for Designing Annual Reports

Elements of design such as paintbrushes

Looking for actionable strategies for designing your annual or financial report? Try these visual content tips. They’ll help you find the right way to bring your annual report to life through data visualization, photography, interactivity, or other visual elements.

Visualize Your Financial Report: Infographic Solutions for Your Brand

Illustration of a printed financial report inspired by infographics

Financial reports are another key type of business communication that can benefit from visual elements. From data visualization to visual storytelling, learn how to take your financial report to the next level.

A Complete Guide to Infographic Design for Marketing & Internal Comms

Illustration of an infographic showing the design process

Many visual annual reports today are inspired by infographic design. Learn about the huge potential of infographic-inspired annual report design and how this might make your next annual report a success.

Top Examples: Visual Annual Reports

Here are just a few annual report designs that might inspire your next project. 

An Interactive Microsite

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group wanted to make its annual report widely available to members, and felt that a report in the form of an interactive microsite would increase readership. The resulting landing page featured clean, animated data visualizations and was driven by visuals over text.  

An Interactive Map Report

This interactive map and annual report for the Seattle Department of Transportation was delivered in multiple formats — as both a printed report and an interactive experience. The report aligned with SDOT’s brand but also incorporated a few elements of art direction unique to this project.

A Collection of Print Collateral

Printed visual annual report design for Deloitte

A visual annual report created for Deloitte was not only available in PDF form, but as a print booklet and even printable placemat versions for a conference. That way, audiences were able to interact with the information in the way that was best for them.

View more examples of great annual report design

Your next annual report could be more engaging than ever if you incorporate custom visual content in a skillful, intentional way. Let these resources and strategies inspire your next effort.