Best Practices for Online Annual Reports
Not so long ago, nearly all publicly-traded companies produced a printed annual report and usually posted a PDF of that document on their website. Nowadays, fewer and fewer companies are producing an annual report, but more and more are embracing the opportunities provided by web-based communication to post an online version of an annual report, corporate profile or corporate sustainability report.
But, what makes for a great online annual report? What considerations should drive the creative and development processes?
For any report to be effective, content must be focused and strategic, well organized and up to date, and consistent with other corporate materials. It needs to support key corporate messages and brand. But any effective communications tool has to be targeted to the audience, so content must be directly relevant to the anticipated user.
The structure and navigation within the report needs to be intuitive and efficient so that it’s easy to access the breadth and depth of content. By making use of relevant hyperlinks within the report, and efficient navigation around the report, a significant amount of data can be provided in a format that’s simple to use but not overwhelming. Responsive design will ensure that visitors using mobile devices or tablets will enjoy the same functionality and experience as those using a desktop.
To maximize the visits, it must be robustly searchable and incorporate some sophisticated search functions. This report isn’t going to get the hits that it deserves if it’s not easy to find. Since an online report of this nature is probably going to look and feel a lot like a small website, building effective SEO into the report is important and entirely feasible.
And, a great online annual report will be dynamic, exploiting the capabilities of web-based communications and providing an excellent opportunity to showcase video and all sorts of other interactive elements to provide a richer experience to the user than a hard-copy document.
Take a look at the online corporate profile we launched in April 2014 for Bankers Petroleum Ltd. The report is accessible from the corporate home page as well as elsewhere on the site. It was designed to be a simple but effective vehicle showcasing video of David French, Bankers’ President & CEO while also providing specific information about the company’s recent results. Bankers Petroleum is a Canadian-based oil and gas exploration and production company focused on developing large oil and gas reserves in Albania. Bankers’ stock trades on the TSX with the symbol BNK, and a current market capitalization in excess of $1.5 billion.