5 Design Tips for Stunning Marketing Reports
What do you think of when you hear the words “client reporting?” For many marketers, these words generate a feeling of dread. Reporting means sifting through data points and double and triple-checking a final document.
When pulling data for reports, your first priority is crunching numbers and generating insights. With a deadline to meet, the report design and data visualizations may be the last thing on your mind.
Yet beautifully designed reports allow marketers to better tell a story with data and improve communication with clients. A report’s visual impact also affects how clients interpret data and how they feel about working with your organization.
“Math is easy; design is hard” – Jeffrey Veen
What makes reporting so frustrating is that there is a limited amount of time and a ton of data. Report design often falls by the wayside due to these limitations. To help improve the look and feel of your next marketing report, follow the five simple design tips below:
1. Embrace White Space
“Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking.” – Ellen Lupton
Many marketing reports suffer from information overload. A ten-plus page PDF, brimming with text and numbers is visually overwhelming and can be frustrating for clients to digest. Sometimes all you need to do is refine the data and spread it out using white space. To do this, first edit out data points that aren’t crucial to your story. Next trim down any fluff in the text. Make the writing succinct and to the point. Then use ample spacing to move readers through the report and guide them to each element in order of importance. For added impact, use white space to isolate the most vital data and insights at the top of a page. Follow with less important data points shown in smaller fonts.
2. Show and Don’t Tell
“Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it.” – Pierre Bonnard
There is a reason that infographics and images shared on Pinterest and Instagram are so pervasive and compelling. Visuals instantly impart meaning and leave your readers with less heavy lifting to do. Whenever possible, leverage charts and graphs to illustrate trends and insights. Limit text and allow the data visualizations to speak for themselves. You can even make paragraphs of text more visual by using color to indicate when a metric is performing well (green) or performing poorly (red). Color can guide the reader’s eye through the report and to the most important information.
3. Provide A Visual Road Map
“Design is the conscious effort to impose a meaningful order.” – Victor Papanek
Build your report for usability. Include a table of contents and cues like page numbers and headings to let readers to know where they are within the report as a whole. If you have many charts and data visualizations throughout, you may want to caption each with a unique figure number. When you discuss a marketing report with stakeholders or clients, you can quickly align multiple readers by referencing the heading, sub-heading, figure number, or page number that you’re speaking to.
4. Use Hierarchy to Reinforce Meaning
“Design should never say, ‘Look at me.’ It should always say, ‘Look at this.'” – David Craib
Great design uses scale to create a visual hierarchy. For example, by putting a piece of information in a larger font size, you can show viewers “This is the most important data on this page.” A report with a good visual hierarchy will start with the most important overall KPIs, then work through different data sets with high-level metrics first and more granular detail in smaller fonts. Reports with a clear hierarchy of information can drive home important points and reduce data noise.
5. Brand and Be Consistent
“Design is intelligence made visible.” – Alina Wheeler
One of the main benefits of a well-designed marketing report is the favorable impression it leaves with clients and stakeholders. Keep fonts, layouts, and data sets consistent throughout each report. Consistency from month-to-month will help your readers know what to expect in each report, so they can quickly and easily absorb the story and spot trends in each new document. Brand reports
by incorporating company colors and logos into the report design.
What are you biggest design pet peeves when it comes to marketing reports? Please share your tips for better report design in the comments below.