How Design Makes Reports More User-Friendly And Impactful

Good design helps readers to understand your message in no time. Everybody has limited time and they’re bombarded with information. We’ll teach you some design principles that guide your reader through your work. Saves them time and increases the chance of them reading what you have to say. 

Over the past couple of years, my team and I have been putting out management information to the Management Team (MT) so that they can steer the internal audit department. We do this on a monthly basis, which is quite usual in this type of work.

We monitor the KPI’s set for our department, analyze progress to them and give the MT useful information based on these KPI’s. This has resulted in quite a lot of discussion over the years.

In the beginning, these discussions usually revolved around quality of the numbers and content of our analyses. Of course, we all had to get to know each other in depth in order to find out how to best work together, since we’re there to help them steer the department. Not to punish them. Over time, our data quality increased, which resulted in higher quality conversations that were useful to one another.

The interesting thing is, I have no background in business control. I do have a background in Account Management and Graphic Design, two vastly different fields. Account Management is an obvious match with being a controller but graphic design has proven to be really useful as well. In this article I’d like to break down several key insights I’ve come across over the past couple of years.

Clarity & Readability

Graphic design elements, such as appropriate font choices, spacing, and layout, contribute to making the information in reports easier to read and understand. Well-designed reports use consistent typography and formatting to ensure that the content flows smoothly and doesn’t overwhelm the reader.

Visual Hierarchy

Graphic design helps establish a clear visual hierarchy by using different font sizes, colors, and formatting to emphasize important information. This guides the reader’s attention to key points, summaries, and conclusions, making it easier for management to quickly grasp the main takeaways.

Data Visualization

Complex data can be better understood through visual representations such as charts, graphs, and infographics. These visuals provide a concise overview of trends, patterns, and correlations, which can be difficult to comprehend when presented in raw data format.


Well-designed reports are more engaging and can hold the reader’s attention for longer periods. The use of relevant images, icons, and color schemes can make the content visually appealing and encourage the reader to explore the report further.

Branding & Consistency

Reports that adhere to the company’s branding guidelines and design principles create a consistent and professional image. This consistency builds trust and reinforces the company’s identity in the minds of the readers.

User Friendly Layouts

A well-structured layout organizes the content logically, with headings, subheadings, bullet points, and sections. This layout makes it easier for readers to skim through the report, locate specific information, and delve deeper into areas of interest.


Effective graphic design considers accessibility principles, making sure that the report is comprehensible to individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities. Proper color contrast, alt text for images, and use of readable fonts contribute to an inclusive design.


Graphic design can help in crafting a narrative through the report. By carefully choosing visuals and arranging content, designers can guide readers through a story that leads to insightful conclusions.

Reduce Cognitive Load

A well-designed report minimizes cognitive load by presenting information in digestible chunks. Too much information or poorly organized content can overwhelm the reader, making it difficult for them to extract meaningful insights.

Emphasis on Key Insights

Design elements like callout boxes, highlights, and annotations can be used to draw attention to crucial insights or recommendations within the report.

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