How to improve the design of your email newsletter

design newsletters Sep 25, 2019

Do you want to improve how your email newsletter looks and performs? Every email you send offers an opportunity to build trust, nurture relationships, boost brand recognition, and generate referrals. However, good design is essential to make those things happen.

Sending your message is only half the battle. You must make it easy for your audience to consume the info and take action—design matters!

Engagement improves when you focus on creating an exceptional experience for your audience. Here are seven simple ways to make the magic happen.

Add white space

Breathing is a big deal. You'll die without it, and so will your message. Give your words and design elements a little breathing room by adding white space.

"White Space in design composition is same as use of Silence in a musical composition. Without proportionate use of Silence, music is unstructured; some may call it noise. Similarly, without White Space, design is unstructured and difficult to consume." — Pratik Hedge

In his article Importance of White Space in Design, Pratik Hedge breaks down what white space is, what it does, and how to use it. He explains how white space improves comprehension, focus and attention, and interaction. And he also explores how white space helps organize information and give the eyes a place to rest. 

Keep it simple

When it comes to email, restraint is my recommendation. More make things complicated. More fonts! More colors! More clip art! More columns! 🙄

Cramming a newsletter with extras creates a visual mess. Please resist the urge to add more and keep it simple. Here are my design recommendations:

    • Use a single-column layout 
    • Make sure your template is responsive
    • Limit fonts to two or three web-safe options (consult with your graphic designer on the best choices for your brand)
    • Format for scanners: Use sections, headings, subheadings, bullet points, short paragraphs, and calls to action and make it easy for subscribers to scan your content and take action.
    • Avoid stock photography and clip art
    • Make sure your image files are the right type and size so they don't load slowly in your subscribers' inboxes or appear blurry or broken. Here's a guide to troubleshooting images in Mailchimp.

Use odd numbers

Interior designers, florists, and photographers use odd numbers to create visual interest—three, in particular. Odd numbers force your eyes to move around, and that's why they're so useful in design. 

You can use odd numbers in your email design, too. I like applying this rule to photos and sections. I use an odd number of photographs in newsletters. (Keep in mind that mobile devices stack photos in a single column, but even then, a group of three is more visually appealing than two.) I also love using dividers inside emails to create three distinct parts. 

Let it flow

How you organize your content is incredibly important. That’s why using an information hierarchy is a best practice.

Always put your most important information first. Don't save it for the end because some subscribers bail before they scroll all the way through your newsletter.

Give weight to your calls to action. If you have multiple calls-to-action, start with a full-width button, then medium-width, and end with anchor-text links. This also creates a funnel-like visual that helps eyes flow down the page.

Go easy on the eyes

Make it easy to read your newsletter. Aside from using white space and good formatting and visual organization, make sure your font sizes don't require squinting. Use at least 16px in your body copy and three times that for your headers for the desktop version of your newsletter (For example, use these heading sizes with 16px body copy: H1 = 48px, H2= 36px, H3 = 28px, H4 = 18px).

These guidelines shift a little for mobile because the devices are smaller and the relative scale between elements becomes exaggerated. And that's hard to read, folks. For mobile devices, use 16px body copy but bring balance by adjusting the size of your headers (For example, use these heading sizes with 16px body copy in your mobile design: H1 = 32px, H2= 26px, H3 = 22px, H4 = 18px)

Be consistent

This is a big one. Despite what you may think, reinventing the wheel every time you send a newsletter is completely unnecessary—and counterproductive!

Here's the truth: your audience likes knowing what to expect from you. It's not boring to use consistent branding. formatting, and organization! Collectively, these visual elements help you deliver what your audience expects, and that builds trust—the pre-cursor to sales.

Make it human

I think it's important to remind people that you're not a robot. Adding your face and signature to your contact details helps visually humanize every email you send. 

Now what?!

If you're not getting the results you want from your email newsletter, good design can turn things around.

Always look at your newsletter from the perspective of your audience. Does it feel cramped? Is it hard to read? Do your eyes flow through it with ease? Addressing these issues will improve your email experience for your subscribers and make it easy for them to consume the info and take action. 

Design matters! 🙌🏻



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