As part of the Inviso team, I had the pleasure of creating the basic concept, the UX and user journey, and the reader experience of the first digital version of the annual report of a Danish multinational company.
Being the single most important touchpoint annually for a big part of the company shareholders and investor relations, with all the tradition of fine print and well-crafted details, it was a challenge we took on with a good mix of humility and a bold attitude: An important document like this does not deserve to be stuck in time and physical material. It deserves a fair chance to have a real life in the digital age with all the benefits of workflow optimization, accessibility, and sustainability bonuses such as saved paper and distribution.
With the first version, we have aimed to create a good foundation for the transition from a traditionally printed publication to a fully digitalized version that can be refined over the years to come. To make a successful transition and create the best possible chance of winning traditional users' and readers’ acceptance, we have had one clear goal in mind: Maintain, as far as possible, the key qualities of the print experience.
With an abundance of effects and flashy features, digital design has so much to offer when it comes to engaging readers with an interactive experience. But the key for this project was rather to create something as solid as paper and serious as books. So we wanted to use digital tools and technology, not to catch attention or entertain, but simply to improve the reading experience and ease navigation.
I further elaborated the key goal of the project into five areas of value and principles for the UX.
A unique copy
It’s a long read. Something you would want to come back to and pick up where you left it. On the plane, or a late evening in the cottage by the fire. Keep the coffee stains and the folded corners. We want to make the digital version something that belongs to you. Your unique copy.
Service multiple needs with an open navigation
Some people need to read everything. Some want to go straight to the raw numbers. Some want to calmly dig into the background stories.
We want to allow for this: Making your own route through the publication. Not force the journey in a straight line from page 1 to page 112.
When the navigation is free, orientation becomes essential
As a reader, you need to know where you are. What you have read already and what is still left to read. It should be easy to find your way around and easily get back to places you need to revisit.
Storytelling and branding
The framing, identity and, overall guidance of the reader are essential for the brand. The annual report is the single most important touchpoint for shareholders who do not use the company’s products themselves. The editorial line needs to shine through and stick.
High-quality reading experience
Add space and calmness around text and images. Avoid flashy and disturbing effects. Focus on relevant, usable features. Ability to enlarge graphs and tables, easy access to notes with overlays. Simple bookmark and sharing options.
Dive right into the content. ‘Infinite scroll’ automatically loading the next article helps you fetch the next parts in an uninterrupted experience without compromising performance.
And the progress bar to the left shows, not just how much of an article you have read, but rather how much of the full publication.
The main navigation panel and table of contents give the full overview of the report and let experienced annual report readers find what they are looking for quickly.
We added simple features to assist orientation, such as indications of where you are, and which articles you have still left to read.
We added bookmark options for each article to make it easy to find the way back to important articles.
The Bookmarks view in the navigation panel furthermore offers the option of creating a custom reading list. (With no need to sign in!)
With annual reports, there is often a level deeper to go. Data behind the data. We wanted to give access to this right on the screen without sending the reader elsewhere and risking getting lost.
Modal overlays are great for this.
Whether readers need to keep and save special articles themselves or share them with colleagues, this needs to be easy to do.
And more than being a gimmick in the age of social media, these sharing options also work as a way of giving a report like this – something that used to be stuck in print – a real place in the digital world, pointing out where it is in a way that is accessible to anyone at any time.