Digital reporting evolved.

Four things to have in mind when building a successful digital reporting strategy.

1. Keep it short and simple

From our stats we know that users click on average 4.9 times and spend 5 min 20 sec browsing through an online report. To accommodate this, access to and the content itself need to be shaped for digital channels. Users do not read the entire web pages, but “scan” them according to their individual interests. To help users find their way you should consider:

  • a clear content structure and typography
  • extensive use of headings and subheadings
  • easy to understand diagrams
  • clear colour contrast on charts
  • use of bold type to highlight texts
  • use of lists to summarise content

2. Give the user choice

The web is built in HTML (HyperText Markup Language). Wikipedia defines Hypertext as “text displayed on a computer display or other electronic devices with references (hyperlinks) to other text which the reader can immediately access, or where text can be revealed progressively at multiple levels of detail”. Hypertext with hyperlinks that connect related content is considered as DNA of the internet. To facilitate this evolutionary function include the following as often as possible:

  • hyperlinks (the more the better!), within text as well as table information or any other form of HTML content
  • a related content box also offers valuable choice and visibility of additional content
  • links should be highlighted consistently throughout e.g. using a special link colour and/or underlining
  • use intro or teaser texts together with further reading links

3. Measure what you have done AND improve next time

Effectiveness is the Holy Grail for any digital application – wise words that you should keep in mind. Different from their printed counterparts a digital report allows you to understand what users liked or disliked! Simply look at the click statistics of your online report. Any decent statistics tool will provide you with valuable information on:

  • how many visits each individual web page has received
  • how long users stayed on each page
  • where they came from (referrer)
  • where they left the report
  • what they searched for
  • which device they used (desktop, tablet, smartphone)

4. There is only one chance for a first impression

To engage with your audience you need to shape an exceptional user experience. Certainly a good way to successfully create a lasting impression is to add an extra dose of interactivity to your digital report. The web as a two-way communication channel offers plenty of options to engage with your audience ranging from simple mouse-over effects up to complex multimedia arrangements. See below some good examples to digest:

AkzoNobel Annual Report 2015: Waterfall introductory page


SCA Annual Report 2015: Interactive charting


Deutsche Post DHL CR Report 2015: Materiality matrix


METRO Group Condensed Report 2014/15: Digital storytelling


Shell Sustainability Report 2015: Interactive GRI Index


Clariant Annual Report 2015: Find-as-you type search



Add a comment.

You must be logged in to post a comment.