As you are pulling together content for your Annual Report, you are likely to come across pieces of content that can be used effectively in a graphic format. Charts and graphics are a great way to emphasize your theme visually. Here are some guidelines I follow to make the most of this kind of content.
Charts are skimmable.
Charts and graphics (along with headlines, captions and pull quotes) break up the copy and give an instant overview of your content. A carefully chosen infographic can give a sense of the article’s content and pique curiosity. Think of your chart as a visual pull-quote. Choose to showcase data that is clear, visually interesting and relevant to your overall message. Pull data from your content and make it visual, just like a pull quote.
Visuals are easy to digest.
Charts make complex information easily digestible by creating a visual snapshot.
Take, for example, dietary guidelines. You can write at length about the correct balance of vegetables, protein and fats in a healthy diet. While there is a lot of specific information that you want to communicate, the main thing you want your audience to walk away with is how to portion out these food categories. A graphic of a plate that is half vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter fats & carbs makes it very easy to remember. A person may not remember how many grams of protein they are supposed to eat, but with the help of this graphic, they can look at their plate and instantly assess how it matches with the guidelines.
The best charts are those that have a clear purpose, provide information that is relevant and useful to your audience and creates instant understanding.
Clarity is key.
The meaning of the chart should be instantly apparent. Even complex charts, when well designed, trigger instant recognition. If you are trying to communicate too many different ideas in one graphic, it will be less effective. Don’t confuse people by trying to put too many different ideas or data sets into one chart.
Keep telling a story.
As discussed in previous posts you should showcase information that will engage your readers. Data that is exciting to internal staff may not have the same resonance for your external audiences. Remember that people do not care about numbers; they care about the people that data represents. Your charts and graphs should support the overall story you are telling, and don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your data!
Remember this – your audience is lending you their precious time by reading your annual report – in return, you should take the time to make their experience delightful.
Great design always centers around connecting the consumer with the message in a way that’s easy, enjoyable and keeps them connected to your endgame.