Does Your Annual Report Need a Digital or Print Design

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It’s time to publish that annual report that will tell your business or organization’s stakeholders all they need to know about your accomplishments during the past year.

But you may have a question: Should it be published on the web, or should we still offer a print version, too? That’s a tough question to answer, because it really depends on your intended audience.

While more and more companies (at least, in the United States) are publishing their annual reports digitally, there is some lag in that an online report can be a PDF flipbook, which is hardly a web-optimized annual report. So there’s still some organizations holding onto the print world. Is it worth it to publish a print version? Well, it depends.

Questions to Ask Yourself

You really have to figure out who is going to read your annual report. For instance, if you want your report to be read by anyone in the general public, digital might be the way to go. If you want to present something tangible to a Board of Directors, then you’d need a print copy.

As well, you have to think about whether or not your stakeholders tend to skew older. Some older people may not be as technology savvy (though this is changing), and you may still encounter the odd holdout who doesn’t have a broadband or even an Internet connection.

You also have to consider the legalities, too. Whether you print an annual report or put it online, you have to make sure that your legal obligations to disclose information are being met and that the people who are meant to see it can actually access it.

Once you figure out who your report is targeted to, you then have to weigh the pros and cons of each approach.

The Pros and Cons of Digital Annual Reports

There are some distinct advantages to having an annual report online:

  • You can interact more with stakeholders by producing interactive charts and graphs, and engaging videos.
  • You can easy share online reports with others. If you’re a non-profit organization, this can be really helpful in attracting more donors.
  • You can get your numbers out to people who may be more pressed for time.
  • You can help the environment by going paperless.
  • You can tweak the graphic design and navigation to get people to drill down to the areas they want to read.

However, there are also drawbacks to producing an online annual report:

  • Your report has to have beautiful graphic design and clear writing to grab people’s attention when they may be pressed for time.
  • You run the risk of the stakeholder not truly getting involved with the material, particularly as most people skim content that’s online.
  • You may have to spend a fair amount of money to get an online annual report that passes muster in terms of its graphic design.
  • You may not be able to reach everyone with your annual report, particularly if they’re lagging in Internet connections or connection speeds. According to the World Factbook, there is still almost 12 percent of Canadians who are not connected to the Internet.

The Pros and Cons of Print Annual Reports

Despite being seen as an old and stodgy way of getting your annual report to the public, there are still a few benefits to this method of communication:

  • You can make your report really get attention because not many people are expecting print annual reports in today’s tech-savvy world.
  • You can also get “shares” in the print world. Your report might stick with your stakeholder who then passes it around to family or friends.
  • You might also leave a much stronger impression, as stakeholders might appreciate the more tactile experience of a print version.
  • You might be able to reach more stakeholders, particularly those who are not with the times and have a good Internet connection.

However, there are some drawbacks as well:

  • Your report must be so captivating in terms of its writing and graphic design that it doesn’t get thrown into the junk mail pile.
  • Your stakeholders might think that you’re wasting money and natural resources by publishing a print version.
  • Your print annual report may cost a lot to print, and then there are the mailing costs to factor in as well.

Need Help?

If you need a hand with producing any aspect of an annual report, whether it is online or off, you can reach out to Cyan Solutions. We have a great deal of experience in the realm of producing annual reports, we’ll even do the graphic design. Contact us right now if you have a need and we’ll be glad to extend our hand to you.

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