A cutting edge report for Generation

Generation Investment Management was co-founded by Al Gore in 2004 with a mission to promote a more sustainable economy. Placing environmental and social factors at the core of everything they do, their annual Sustainability Trends Report has become well respected globally. Generation asked us to create a bold digital solution for the 2020 report, streamlining the production and bringing it to life through a more immersive experience.

We started work on the report in March 2020, just as Covid-19 began tightening its grip on the world. The impact of the pandemic and the critical choices facing governments, businesses and investors were now essential to the report, which meant drafts were subject to significant rewrites as the global story unfolded.

Efficient workflow

We needed to work in parallel with Generation researchers right up to the launch date, so we began by developing a flexible system and workflow to enable collaboration between the project teams. This meant data and copy could be fine-tuned as we worked on designing the interface, which ultimately gave Generation’s editorial team more time to devote to content creation.

Flexible navigation

With the report spanning six interconnected chapters, we wanted to support a linear and non-linear reading approach that would allow users to focus on topics and trends most relevant to them. We created a navigational model to make this possible, introducing a ‘spotlight topic’ feature that keeps the user’s place within the report, while facilitating organic exploration of related content.

Optimised typeface

Finding the right typeface was key to the design, so we looked for a font that was clearly legible at small sizes for chart labels, while being elegant at larger sizes and in heavier weights. TT Interphases, a font designed by Type Type specifically for interfaces, ticked all the boxes and lends visual impact.

Interactive charts

The report includes over 200 charts and graphs that again needed to be authored and edited until just before launch. This could have been an expensive and time-consuming addition to the project, but the integration of our chart authoring tool Applied Charts allowed the Generation team to quickly and easily create charts as soon as new data came in.

Applied Charts allowed us to author hundreds of charts, easily and autonomously, with content added right up to the wire as new evidence emerged.

Felix Preston Director, Sustainability Insights

Results

The report has set a new design benchmark for future publications. With the integration of Applied Charts and complete change in workflow, a more efficient, collaborative process was possible. Just a week after its launch in June, the 2020 report had over ten thousand views — a 400% increase in traffic on the 2019 edition, with rave reviews across the news networks.