I’m very lucky to always work with wonderful teams and colleagues. If there is anything that we can do to make everyone’s work easier and effective, we all jump at that opportunity. That’s also the case with helping and empowering Report Developers, or Business Intelligence Developers, Programmer Analyst, whatever your synonym is for their title (i.e. those talented and intelligent colleagues developing your reports and dashboards) to better do their job.
Yes, they are able to program almost any type of report, dashboard, and visualization, being only constricted by technology, available data, and resources. Having them build a report by using a template with the same look and feel is very helpful to them as well as its audience, for various reasons I outlined before. I encourage you to read it if you’d like to make your business case for why you should create a report template.
I’m offering a free report template towards the end of the article, to get you started
Again, programmers can build anything, but you cannot expect them to also be great designers. Indeed, some are that as well, I know we have a few, but graphic design is not a criteria of the job description. So they rely on the design requirements from the end user, who might also not be a great designer. That’s why you sometimes get a report like the following, or worse. It probably works well, but it’s not the most effective or visual appealing type of report.
To help everyone, provide your developers with a report design template for them to program in your reporting tool and use as a baseline for future reports. Not only it will save time in the long run, but it will provide a common look and feel which everyone will appreciate.
My recommendation is to work with a designer, maybe someone from your Marketing or Communications team, but ideally someone with experience in user experience design. Follow my checklist on the must-have report components and provide your programming team with a wireframe and detailed information on font, alignment, spacing and padding, colors, etc.
For your convenience, here’s a template in InDesign which you can download and update as per your own needs and guidelines.
Templates save a lot of time and headaches so use our template or create your own from scratch and empower your developers to provide stakeholders with fast and user-friendly reports with a common look and feel.