Now, that's how you do an annual report!

By Toward,

September 2012


The Seren Group are one of our longest serving clients. We provide design services for all 6 companies within the group and also work on group wide projects such as their annual review document.

For the last few years this has been an A4 printed document that was fairly costly to produce. This year, in order to help them keep costs down, embrace technology and to make it more friendly to the environment, we suggested they opt for an online version of their annual report. To our delight they said "oh, go on then".

Last years annual review design

This is the printed version from last year, which led the design style

The design style was already dictated by the previous print versions so the real challenge was how to get staff and partners engaged with what could potentially be very dry information. We knew that it couldn't be static pages of text and tables. We had to have a level of interaction and oodles of personality. Challenge accepted.

The first thing we did was explain to our client that content had to be reduced in comparison to the printed versions. We didn't want to bombard people with text so the key facts, figures and stories had to be extracted and condensed as much as possible. We also need good imagery and thankfully our client delivered.

Seren online annual review

Not having the restrictions of physical pages meant we could use more space in the design

We decide fairly early on that the review would be one page that users were lead down as they went further. Applying the illustrations from the printed version immediately brought personality and vibrancy to the overall design. We wanted people to interact with the page so we included doors that changed colour, info bubbles that pop up and various sliders that tell stories. It's not super advanced in terms of functionality, but in terms of how this sort of information is usually presented it's certainly different.

Seren online annual review

The annual review is divided into several sections. Once you start moving down through the content the navigation becomes fixed so people can get to which ever part they need quickly as this is now a resource and tool that they may need to refer to throughout the year.

It was interesting taking something that was traditionally a formal and very corporate document (although Seren have always embraced the benefits of personality) and turning it into something interactive, that engaged users but was still taken seriously. We experienced a significant learning curve but we're so grateful to have clients that allow us to challenge ourselves and push the boundaries of their marketing and communications. As far as we know, this is the first annual review of it's kind for their sector so it's also great to be helping clients stand apart from their competition.

Seren online annual review

Interactive elements help keep the user engaged in their journey

Denise from the Seren Group said: "It is not often you work with an agency that provides you with great a great idea or a concept that provides a completely new and fresh approach. That’s exactly what Toward did when we asked them to produce our Annual Review 2011/12. Not only did they suggest we produce an online version, but they came up with the design concept and made the whole experience fun and interactive for the reader.

"We work in the serious business of housing and support, and our work is all about making a difference to people’s lives. Ever since Toward worked on our rebrand, they have evolved the look and feel of our web based design and print work. They know us so well, they are able to create designs that are all about people, produced in a colourful, fun and friendly way."

Feedback on this approach to the annual report has been great and has also grabbed the attention of other organisations. Although it only went live a few weeks ago we, already have ideas for next years version. If Seren thought we blew their socks of this year, they ain't seen nothing yet.

Seren online annual review

You can view the online review here, and make sure you let us know what you think in the comments.