Every year, we write a review of the best online annual reports ( FYI we specialize in designing digital annual reports). This year, we’d like to highlight five annual reports that we think really stand out.
Novozymes is an agri-research company focused on using enzymes and microbes to make agriculture better for farmers, consumers, and the planet. Their annual report is, in a lot of ways, a testament to simplicity. A lot of the reports we’ll look at representing significant investments of time and energy and can be quick to dismiss as “well, yeah, that’s Google.”
But Novozymes shows that some nice graphs and a bit of parallax scrolling go along way to telling a story with numbers. We also loved their simple navigation and how easy it was to access more information on complex topics.
Roche’s annual report is nothing short of visually stunning.
Of all the reports we looked at, Roche, a Swiss-based pharma and diagnostics healthcare company, is the one that went video-first the most.
Every section features a stunning video, united thematically with a simple overlay. The result is a report where you know you’re moving to the next chapter, but you also know you’re in the same book. It’s a delicate balancing act, especially with media as rich as video, and Roche manages it admirably.
Their sub-stories where you can dive into more detail continue the excellent interactivity. The only critique is that the navigation is tied to the main site, making it difficult to really bounce around the report and find specifically what you’re looking for. All in all though, great use of a difficult medium.
3. Girls Who Code
Unsurprisingly, Girls Who Code, a nonprofit dedicated to getting more women involved in coding, had a stunning digital annual report. There’s a lot to love here but we wanted to call out a few key features.
First, it’s branded. It feels like Girls Who Code, but if you look back at past annual reports, they all have a similar look and feel, updated to reflect the era they were produced in. The same way other organizations brand their knowledge centres or customer portals, Girls Who Code did that to their annual reports.
And this is a stroke of genius. Not only does it mean that there’s a cohesion here that’s missing from many other reports — a cohesion that will build brand / investor value over time — but there’s also a sense of continuity and deliberateness. It’s not just nice looking: it’s not looking for a reason.
We also loved:
- The use of gifs and interactive media in a playful, almost “this is an afterthought” way
- Interactive graphs
- Beautiful data visualizations
- Simple navigation
- Clever typography
All in all, Girls Who Code did an incredible job on their online annual report.
Most annual reports are built of the same stuff: an intro, letter from the CEO, product/department/initiative deep dives, stats, and financials.
WNET, a nonprofit that runs a few PBS stations, took a different approach. Rather than showing the output of what they created, they just showcased the creation themselves.
Their “year in review” is an amalgamation of all the different types of media and content they produced over the year, highlighting big wins and creating an experience that is more ‘slice of WNET’ than ‘annual report. The result is a digital experience that you can’t wait to explore and can spend hours running down rabbit holes in.
Vodafone took a year off from our top annual reports last year, but they’re back in 2019 with a vengeance. For a complete and total on-brand experience, Vodafone is hard to look past.
Simple to follow, slick transitions, and photography that exactly mirrors their look and feel elsewhere, Vodafone leveraged what companies tend to forget about. Yes, you can use your annual report to brand out from your core brand – but there’s a lot of value in keeping it consistent.
Organizations should see the annual report not as an admin task, but as a wonderful opportunity to tell your brand story, with whatever tools you need to tell it. For some, that’s a simple PDF. But for most, there’s huge potential to incorporate intricate web design into the project.
Every year, this post gets harder to write as more and more organizations push their annual reports into interactive content experiences.
We can’t wait to see what stories hit the wires next year, and how those stories are told.
Does your business need an online annual report?