Designing information, data and annual reports has been a key component of River Graphics from the start. We have designed hundreds of annual reports and informational reports for clients like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Gallup Organization, the Pew Research Center, the Albert Einstein Medical Center, the Pew Center for the People and the Press, Princeton Survey Research Associates and many more. We cut our design teeth on The Gallup Poll Monthly, rich with charts and interpretive text about everything from the presidential approval rating to Americans’ belief in ghosts. Concurrently, we worked with our friends at TKO Design on many annual report projects for various clients including Snapple and Delaware Investments.
When designing a report we consider:
- what the competition does
- both internal and external audiences
- the objectives of the report
- the final deliverables (print, PDF, web, all of the above)
- design and size specifications
- imagery (will photography or illustrations be needed?)
- types of content (callouts, sidebars, key points, charts or graphs)
Working with so much financial and public opinion research data, one of the skills we honed is how to visually present simple or complex data in a clear and compelling way. In other words, charts or graphs, maps and tables.
A graph is a visual presentation of data whose source data is a table or spreadsheet. The most common goal of presenting data as a graph, as opposed to a table, is to make a visual comparison of the information. Data over time, for example presidential approval ratings or mutual fund earnings, are best shown as a line graph. Data that compares one data group to another, say the sales of PCs compared to Macs in the U.S., England, France, Germany and Japan, might best be presented as a bar graph.
Creating well-designed graphs, maps and tables requires both an understanding of the data, an artist’s hand and the ability to use illustration software with skill and efficiency. Well-designed information graphics come from a clear understanding of the information, an idea of how the reader will interpret the graph, artistic skill and fluency in graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator.
It all comes together in final report. Whether the charts support the text or text supports the charts, integrating the narrative and the graphics completes the puzzle.