Benefits of Digital Annual Reports

Benefits of Digital Annual Reports

What’s not to love about digital Annual Reports?

They are not only engaging, sustainable, editable and accountable but are also a way to rapidly increase readership and overall ROI. 

The evolution of Annual Reports and publication of large corporate documents has come a long way in recent years. It wasn’t long ago an online Flipbook or interactive PDF was the most advanced way to view a large document online.

Now with the development of DIY platforms and affordable off-the-shelf tools and graphics it has become more common to see Annual Reports built as an interactive website than a printed document or PDF. As readers turn to digital platforms to consume their content more businesses are investing in creating digital Annual Reports. 

The Problem with Print or PDF

Print has limited distribution, static content and is not environmentally friendly. Printed publications work on multiples of 4 pages which can be wasteful and time consuming to work within.  

PDF’s are easy for you, but offer very poor usability for the user. Font sizes are small, often very small, reading the text in the columns requires moving the window left to right and up and down. Interactivity is limited, plus the mobile experience is problematic. 

Ask yourself… what’s the effect on your stakeholders when the technology you use is a burden to read? Your annual report will not only be a struggle to read but engagement and impact will be low.

Why Digital?

Increased Engagement

The way we consume content these days is via a mobile device such as our phone and that content is often interactive and engaging. With a digital Annual Report you can easily add compelling and engaging content. Bring photos to life. Create an immersive experience with video and sound. Point a reader towards key information with animation. Tell complex stories with large infographics or direct users to further information with calls-to-action.

Engaging graphics also avoids the use of large slabs of text. Making it easier for your reader to digest what you have to say, keeping them engaged for longer. However if you do have large passages of text it can easily be hidden within navigation items or on downloadable PDF’s.

Don’t forget, engagement can measured and improved by looking at analytics, testing, learning and making adjustments on the go.

Flexibility to Edit

Have you ever experienced the moment when you have your printed annual report in hand, you flip through, then notice a mistake? Thankfully with a digital report, any mistakes can be fixed on the fly and missing information can easily be added.

Large style changes can easily be made by the use of global elements or dynamic content. These changes can now also be added by yourself or a staff member, right down to the moment of launch.  


Traditionally printing and designing a large Annual Report can be very expensive. Even if you only publish your large Annual Report to PDF, you still need to design it, build it and make it interactive.

Online Annual Reports are not as expensive as people think. Often complex interactive components can be off-the-shelf items and the style and overall design can be taken from an existing theme. If you use a DIY, drag and drop style editing platform most of the content can be added by a staff member, reducing the budget and giving you in house control.

Keep in mind, a digital Annual Report will be catalogued indefinitely on your organisations website whereas printed reports and PDF’s are often placed in the trash.

Promotional Tool

Online annual reports can be quite useful as a marketing and promotional tool to seal the deal with sponsors, donors, and other partners. In the past it wasn’t common for organisations to hand out their annual reports to recruit volunteers or for fundraising.

With a digital annual report, you’ll have the opportunity to distribute it at the click of a button, increase your SEO and use anchor links to point users to the exact sections you wish them to see. Also, digital content is so easy to share, it is the easiest way to get more people to engage with your content. 


With an online annual report you can ensure you’re meeting AA compliance. By controlling font size, navigation and readability to deliver a report that is equally accessible for all to consume. 

Different kinds of online Annual Reports

  • A short but engaging one page site with navigation and PDF downloads.
  • A multi page site with engaging content and navigation for all required content.
  • A multi page site as above but with added functionality such as secure content, online forms and email marketing integration. 
  • A micro site on your existing company website with any combination of content and functionality.

What you’ll need to consider

Plan – budget, content, style, outcome, delivery and future location of the report.

Design – use a designer / developer that knows how to put together an engaging and easy to use online Annual Report.

Host – either a stand alone hosting platform or on your existing website server.

Domain – a dedicated domain or sub domain where the Annual Report can be found.

Delivery – a method to distribute the online Annual Report to your audience.

Future Proof – an economical solution for users to access the report into the future.

Online Annual Reports we like

Not For Profit

Girls Who Code

Spiritual Health Association

Habitat For Humanity

Pathfinders International




Rio Tinto

In Summary

Today’s world is moving away from printing on paper. Our consumption of media is primarily digital and on mobile devices. The marketplace is flooded with many forms of media and communication channels. We want information on demand and in an easy to digest form. 

Annual Reports are a key way for organisations and businesses to connect with their audience. What better way to communicate their mission, achievements, initiatives, goals and budgets etc. than with an eye catching and engaging multi media presentation that can be viewed conveniently at anytime?

Traditional print users can always print or download a PDF for offline reading if needed.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about online Annual Reports, Get in touch.