Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report 2009-10/Design notes

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About the 2009-10 Wikimedia Foundation annual report[edit]

The Foundation's annual report is the primary printed communications product we use to show the accomplishments and core work of the Foundation and its global community of volunteers. The report you see in PDF was designed to be printed. This version will see a short run of 1000 copies. Printing is full color, with a firm cover stock paper, matte finish, in a 24pg, roughly 7" x 10" saddle stitched format. The report is cut so the cover images and inside photo essay bleed to the edge.

For the 2009-10 Wikimedia Foundation annual report, we opted to port all of the text and available imagery over to wiki format so others could more easily take advantage of the copyleft status of the report and all of its core elements. Obviously wikis don't offer the ability to produce complex overlays and customized text, but we tried to keep the design simple enough so that no design techniques would be essential to understanding the basic ideas and text.

With the text freely available, we're encouraging localization and translation, but it can also allow anyone else telling the Wikimedia movement story to borrow all of, or just fragments of the text. Everything in the report comes from our projects: the stories, the data, the images, and the inspiration.

The report was produced in the Communications area of the Wikimedia Foundation, with input from all sections of the Foundation and involvement from many outside chapter representatives and community members. It was designed by Exbrook in San Francisco, the same design team that brought us the 2008-09 annual report, the recently published Strategic plan summary, and this year's Wikipedia 10 celebration marks. We also worked with a local writer and editorial consultant, David Weir, on the overall narrative of the report, specifically the written voice and the connection of the story elements.

Why an annual report?[edit]

Most large non-profits, and for-profit companies and organizations collect the year's worth of accomplishments, fiscal performance, and general activities of their company into a single document after the conclusion of the fiscal year. These reports can become a critical tool for documenting an organization's history, for increasing transparency and openly sharing financial performance data, and for bringing in new contributors and partners to the movement. Publicly held companies produce annual reports as part of a crucial investor-relations strategy, and in most jurisdictions they're required by law to do so. The annual report is often the first thing that Foundation representatives will give to a visitor or to a prospective partner or donor. Other chapters in the Wikimedia movement are also producing annual reports - Wikimedia Deutschland recently published their 2010 report, and Wikimedia India also recently produced its ever report/newsletter.

Our report is designed primarily as a printed document which we produce and hand out in meetings and engagements, however we also want to ensure that the widest possible audience can access the report, so we design with PDF and on-screen viewing in mind. With donors number over 500,000, this is also the only conventional and cost-effective way to get reports to donors. Increasingly we also want to produce our report in a way that allows more members of the community to participate and contribute. We could also share designs and templates in stages so other organizations can build reports in tandem with the Foundation and other chapters.

The design and style[edit]

Our annual report could cover any number of thousands of different topics from within our movement and our projects, but the real need is to present a compelling story to the reader that allows them to quickly understand what the Foundation is about - specifically what the people behind the projects are carrying out, and how critical their work is to the success of the projects as a whole.

The report is broken into several major sections: the introductory photo essay, examples of accomplishments within the Foundation and the broader Wikimedia movement, recognition of our contributor community, and data and information from the year of reporting - including financials.

The introductory photo essay showcases the beauty and quality of free imagery available on Wikimedia Commons, and breaks down our extraordinary vision statement with minor and major examples of how our movement came to be, and how it works. We also introduce the five key priorities listed in the Wikimedia strategic plan summary, and showcase just one of the millions of articles in Wikipedia that over the course of the reporting year exemplified the power of collaboration and partnership.

Two more spreads look at the examples of projects undertaken by the Foundation and the chapters, and showcase our major technical achievements - including the usability and multimedia upload initiatives. These are examples of our work that provide a quick (intentionally not comprehensive) overview of what takes place in our community that isn't immediately visible to people who might know us primarily through the reader's experience of Wikipedia.

This year we opted for a journalistic style treatment and voice for the report. The editorial team pushed to find meaningful information in every inch of every spread, and to ensure that a reader with limited time could stop in any section and get a thoughtful glimpse of our work. Our movement is filled with literally millions of stories in hundreds of different languages. Many people new to our work are unaware of the scope and breadth of our projects, and we feel it's our job to show them the thriving community, the incredible value offered for a contributors' funds, the faces of our community, and the overall strategy in place to carry us through the next five years, and well beyond.

The future of our annual report[edit]

With this report complete, we're now thinking about ways to encourage more participation in the production of the document. Some ideas we'd like to try (and please add your own):

  • users submitting high quality imagery along different subject areas
  • sharing design templates for localization during production
  • multiple versions of the annual report published at once
  • annual reports in wiki-only format, or other digital display systems
  • community-contributed stories
  • editions of reports containing the highest quality articles of the year, in many languages
  • PDF to print version using pedia press or similar technology
  • an 'evergreen' annual report that's updated automatically between release dates.

Thanks for your time and for any input. JayWalsh 02:13, 25 March 2011 (UTC)