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The problem with annual reports is that the information inside them can be a dense jungle of tables and terms but that data is important for shareholders, journalists and anybody else who might be interested in the inner workings of a publicly listed company.

This year we wanted to tackle the real problem of annual reports: How do we make all of that data accessible to everyone, giving them the detail at a level they can use when they choose to use it? This meant using responsive web design to make the same information available everywhere and applying the right technologies to give meaningful summaries at a glance.

So what were the challenges?

Overall we needed to keep in mind that the experience of reading the Shareholder Review online had to be a much more pleasureable and worthwhile experience than wading through a 60 page PDF.

A lot of exactitude is required when producing aspects of an annual report. The online version of the Shareholder Review includes over 60 pages’ worth of data, messages and visualisations. The primary challenge was finding the right balance of simplicity and complexity. Some viewers just want to glance at the graphs and don’t want to search the entire site for them. Others want to dive into the tables, so those needed to be easy to find.

Then there was the issue of how someone was going to read the Shareholder Review. Would they be on a phone, a tablet or a large computer monitor? Were they stuck at work with Internet Explorer 8 and no way around it? We had to make sure that, no matter the situation, someone could open up the site with a reasonable expectation to be able to get to their information as easily as possible.

Origin Energy 2012 Online Reporting Suite

How did we overcome these challenges?

Extrapolating from the concept of the printed report, we split each section into a ‘fast read’ and a ‘slow read’. The ‘fast read’ sits at the top of each page and the reader can easily see all the important information at a glance. When the reader starts scrolling the page to view more detailed information, the ‘fast read’ disappears to pass full focus to the rest of the page.

An ever-present navigation helps the reader see what else is available and where in the document they are without distracting from any of the text.

Tables contract horizontally to show columns as wide as they need to be with a handy option for the reader to select more or fewer columns as required.

Graphs animate to fully display growth or progress. Hovering the mouse over the bars of a graph (or tapping them on a mobile device) offers a bit more information about that particular piece of data.

The pages rearrange completely depending on the size of the screen being used. On the largest screens the information is laid out in one, two or three columns, depending on the content. These columns reorganise themselves as screen sizes shrink until all the content is in one easy-to-read column for viewing on mobile phones. All of this uses responsive design so that every device is served by only one set of code, minimising administration overhead.

Origin Energy Online Reporting Suite

Origin energy Online Reporting Suite Phones

And how did it come together?

A lot of technology went into the creation of this site but our technology wranglers were up to the task of reigning it all in for a really smooth launch of the Shareholder Review. When the Sustainability Report is ready it can be slotted right in to complete a brand new reports site befitting an innovative and respected international energy company.

Stakeholders within Origin Energy are really happy with the result and their shareholders have easy access to all the information they require.

See the Origin Energy 2012 Reports.