When one hears the term, “Annual Report” it’s unlikely that they will be overcome with a wave of excitement. The truth is, annual reports can be very boring, and I’ve never met one person who has been truly happy to put one together. Until today. Because I’m going to tell you how to create an annual report infographic. It’s still not as fascinating as reading the Harry Potter series, or traveling the globe, but it’s better than just preparing a written report.
What is an Annual Report?
An annual report is typically an overview of a company’s key metrics from the previous year. The report is meant to give shareholders and investors, as well as other interested parties a breakdown of the business’s overall performance and finances. Putting together an annual report can also be required for tax purposes, particularly for non-profit organizations.
But here’s the thing- reading pages and pages of data can be extremely tedious. It’s not always the best way to get information across quickly, especially when you’re presenting an annual report to a room full of executives. Your goal should be to get the information across as simply as possible.
Making an Annual Report Infographic
There are 4 key points to putting together an engaging and informative annual report infographic.
- Finding the narrative
- Choosing the key metrics
- Picking charts
- Designing the infographic
Finding the Narrative
An annual report is just like any other form of documentation which is meant to communicate a message to an audience. What is the message you are trying to get across with this particular year’s report? Were there any major events that took place that are worth mentioning? Any spikes in numbers that you should give extra emphasis to? Figure out which angle you want to present your report in so that you get people excited about the company’s goals and successes.
Choosing the Right Metrics
For your annual report infographic, gather together some of the key metrics from the previous year. If your revenue grew, make note of the percentage, if you changed tactics in how much content you produced on a monthly basis, or how many more tweets you sent out this year in comparison to last year, make note. These are all numbers that can have an impact on the overall growth of your company.
Here’s an example by Shopify:
Notice how they’ve reported the number of stores powered by Shopify in 2015, in comparison to 2014 and 2013. From those numbers, you can see that there was a 60% growth in the number of stores powered. These are the numbers that your shareholders are looking for, because it reinforces their decision in investing with the company. Are the numbers growing? Great!
Depending on the type of data you are visualizing, you may need to make use of different types of charts. To visualize percentages, for instance, a pictogram or icon chart can be useful. It can also make it easier for the person looking at the data to make sense of the numbers. Here’s an example of a pictogram chart:
In the above pictogram, notice how the number of images represents the units of measurement.
Visualize survey results by using a bar or column chart. If you want to visualize a value that is an outlier, you can use an area-based chart like a bubble chart or tree map to emphasize the contrast, but only if one value is much larger than the others.
Showing trends over a period of time can be done with a line chart or a bar chart as long as you aren’t including too many data points in a time series.
Quick tip: Use Beam, a simple chart maker to make the process of visualizing data much easier.
Designing the Infographic
Once you’ve compiled all the necessary data, and decided which charts to use, it’s time to consider the design of your infographic. For most, I would recommend sticking with your company’s brand colors and fonts when putting together an annual report.
Start by working on establishing a captivating title or header for your annual report infographic. Take a look at this example from Nuru International, a non-profit organization.
The title and the picture on the cover tells a story. Simply based off of this image, and the word renewal, we know that the annual report is going to highlight the theme of bringing life back to people in hard places.
Next, it’s important to be mindful of negative space while designing your annual report infographic. Negative space simply means keeping an eye on the blank area surrounding an icon or image.
In this picture, the negative space presents an image of a trophy or sculpture, but also of two faces. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be as clever with the spacing in your infographic- but it does lend a hand to how attractive your infographic can appear. Consider how you space fonts and icons in relation to each other. Give your canvas a margin of at least a half inch to improve readability.
When choosing fonts and colors, try to stick to a max of three different fonts to ensure the text is interesting but not chaotic. A good way to simplify typography but still maintain a compelling design is to use different font weights and styles to create contrast and focal points on a page. Another important thing to keep in mind is ensuring the colors you use contrast one another. It will help important points or keywords pop from the background.
The process of creating an annual report doesn’t need to be tedious and boring. You can share the important milestones that your company has seen in the past year by using an infographic to visualize the data. Not only will it be easier for you to engage your team members, investors, and shareholders, but the process of designing an infographic can make the process of putting together the report a lot more engaging.