Because the best marketers deserve great content.
How We Designed Percolate’s Quarterly Report
Last week we released the first Percolate Quarterly Report. With this post I‘m going to share the thinking and design process behind our new report format.
The project began when we started kicking around the idea of publishing an annual report at the end of 2013. We were keen on telling stories around what it’s like to build a technology company. As we started to think about what such a report might actually entail, it didn’t take long for us to realize that it’s really hard to remember all the things that happened over the course of a year.
To produce a report we’d be really proud of, we would need to come up with a system for how to easily capture everything that went down across tech, design, business, culture and more. How would this happen?
We regrouped in January and came up with a brief that outlined the goals and direction for a 2014 report, one we would publish in quarterly installments. We decided to organize the report around topics and used a spreadsheet to keep track major developments in each category.
Our first report featured six topics:
1) News — Announcements around company milestones
2) Product — A highlight of our latest products and the value they give our clients
3) Content — A roundup of our best blog posts, articles, whitepapers, and presentations
4) Events — How we build communities around the things that matter to us
5) Culture — A peek into life at Percolate
6) People — An introduction to all our new teammates
With our editorial direction established, the next question we needed to answer was how would we bring these stories to life?
We wanted the report to be visually strong and prominently feature great photography. We were already regularly taking photos of people around the office, and this project gave us a chance to re-evaluate what we were shooting. To build a library of assets for the report, we focused our attention in two areas: covering events we host and participate in, and taking portraits of new employees.
Once we began speaking about the project, the design team took a look at report designs we loved. This included the work of Nicholas Feltron, Visual Supply Co, Network Osaka, Paul Rand, Warby Parker, Kickstarter and Artsy. All of this stuff prompted us to explore a range of executions both print and digital.
We found ourselves most excited about making a website, one that would be easy to share amongst our friends, family, clients, peers, and prospects. Early on, we considered using infographics as the primary structure for the report because they do a great job of displaying quantitative information in an interesting way. After some some discussion, we felt that this first report should go beyond the hard numbers and use photography to focus on the people and activities behind our accomplishments for the quarter. We wanted to show a simpler, human side to our company.
We have loved working with the brand system we developed together with Berger & Föhr last fall. This project would allow us to showcase how this system has played out to date, whilst also challenge us to understand how the system would allow us to tell our quarterly stories.
A great example of how this came together was the Content roundup section. Here we show a wide range of content executions, including; cover designs with color blocks, our graph styles using our primary and secondary color palettes, product imagery, all combined with typographic headlines.
My favorite part of designing the report was the close collaboration with the different teams throughout the process.
I worked with with Craig in Marketing to develop content bites that could be easily read at a glance. As set forth by our editorial guidelines, we tried to be thoughtful, interesting, bold, and proud in our writing; and strike a balance between readability and depth. I collaborated with Ben, a frontend engineer, to design templates with clear typographic structures and a grid that allowed elements to stack well for a responsive site.
Working across these different teams meant different perspectives, which constantly pushed us as to design and build a better report.
Our first quarterly report has laid a great foundation for us. We’ll continue to use the tracking system and visual language in future versions and we’re excited to explore new assets in a variety of mediums such as video and print.
Check out the report, we’ve had fun making it and I think you’ll enjoy it.