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 Applied Works to create their 2020 report to improve the experience and streamline the production process for future editions. For the 2021 edition we built on this success, leveraging the design with added functionality and enhancements.

We started work on the 2020 report in the midst of the pandemic, which meant drafts were subject to significant rewrites as the global story unfolded – the impact of Covid-19 being essential to the report. Our design approach and workflow made for a much smoother production for the 2021 edition, which focused on design and functional enhancements to page transitions and chart sharing.

Efficient workflow

We put in place a flexible system and workflow to enable collaboration between the project teams, making it easier to work in parallel with Generation researchers right up to the launch date. This meant Generation’s editorial team could devote more time to fine-tuning data inputs and content, while we worked on designing the interface.

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, and helps with organic exploration of related content.

Optimised typeface

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.

Shareability

With such a broad range of topics, we wanted to make it easy for people to share the wealth of charts and editorial contained within the report. We set about creating a new feature that allows users the flexibility to easily select or download charts and corresponding headlines as visual 'share cards'. Each card providing the choice of portrait or landscape formats to suit different social media platforms. The result is completely automated, so all content editors need to do is enable it.

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

Growing the audience

The 2021 report has set a new design benchmark for the future of Generation's flagship publication. With the integration of Applied Charts and complete change in workflow, a more efficient, collaborative process was possible. The new share tool helped grow the audience, with a 400% increase in traffic on past editions.