7 tips on how to design a great newsletter - The Scriber Blog

Newsletter design is a tricky process, full of pitfalls that could have a serious impact on your success. As a writer, your goal is to produce content of the highest quality. But ensuring that content is delivered in a visually pleasing and functional way is just as important. You can have the best content in the world, but if it’s buried under bad design, it won’t be read.

To help budding newsletter writers through this process, we sat down with the Scriber design team to get their top tips on how to design a great newsletter for your readers.

1. Use responsive design

Responsive design really is a gold standard of any website or email newsletter.

Over the past decade, mobile phones and smart devices became a staple of modern life. As a result, designers recognised that web and email content needed to be consumable on smaller screens. Initially, “mobile friendly” design was the way forward. This ensured that content could be viewed on mobile without changing the structure of the webpage or email.

Today, as web design has evolved, responsive design is the go-to. The key difference here is that responsive design responds to the device on which it’s being viewed. This means your email or webpage literally changes and re-orders to suit the reader’s screen. It’s the best way to ensure a good user experience for your reader.

If you’re designing a newsletter yourself, we definitely recommend contacting a seasoned designer or developer to help you integrate responsive design into your templates.

Alternatively, you could just use Scriber – all our newsletter and web post templates are responsive as standard.

 how to design a great newsletter - The Scriber Blog
Responsive design: Our publication pages re-order themselves to fit the screen they are being viewed on.

2. Stick to a limited colour palette

When you’re not a designer, it’s very easy to end up using too many colours throughout your newsletter to highlight different sections. As a result, there are plenty of newsletter examples out there that end up looking like a kaleidoscope and drawing the reader away from the content itself.

Colour can also reflect the type of newsletter you want to write. Consumer newsletters tend to use more vivid colours to help evoke different feelings. Professional newsletters tend to stick to 1 or 2 colours and use a lot of white space to keep the reader focused on what’s important.

In any case, here’s our advice: You don’t need to use a different colour for every link, section or chart. Pick a primary colour and a highlight colour, like we do on Scriber. That way, you keep things simple and avoid newsletters that look like this:

All the colours: Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

3. Choose web-safe fonts

If you’re not a designer, you’ve probably never heard of web-safe fonts. So, here’s a brief explainer.

Web-safe fonts are fonts that are pre-installed on all devices, everywhere. This means they can be displayed without having to be downloaded from a website server like other visual assets, such as images or charts. This offers two key benefits for budding newsletter designers:

  1. By using web-safe fonts you can be absolutely sure that your typography and copy will look exactly the same on every device.

  2. It also gives you a slight performance boost. By using fonts that are already pre-installed on your readers device, there is less data for them to download. As a result, your newsletter or web page will load faster. This is especially handy for web content, where page speed and performance are a key SEO ranking factor.

The downside of web-safe fonts are that your font choices are limited, and you may not be able to fully realise the visual identity that you want. However, the positives do far outweigh the negatives.

So, what are the web-safe fonts you can choose from? Check out this great list from CSSFonts.

Web-safe: Examples of the most common web-safe fonts.

4. Keep your branding simple and consistent

Branding is important. Good branding means your readers will recognise your work instantly when they see it, and associate it with positive values quality, truth, genuine etc.

When you’re starting a newsletter from scratch, your logo and branding should reflect the type of content you are creating. Light-hearted publications tend to be more illustrative with their logos and branding, whilst professional publications tend to rely more on typography. Figure out what works for your newsletter, and what image you want to convey to your potential subscribers.

Once you’ve got your branding nailed down, be sure to use it consistently. Not just in your newsletter or website header, but in your email signatures, letterheads, social media accounts and more. Everything you produce is an opportunity to showcase your brand and gain exposure.

5. Be sparing with calls-to-action

It can be really tempting to include calls-to-action throughout your newsletter. After all, the name of the game is to get people to take action and subscribe. But overloading your readers with too many buttons or differing calls-to-action can be confusing and off-putting.

Use your CTAs sparingly, and only place them at the points in your newsletter where they would naturally fit at the end of key sections, and at the end of the newsletter itself. It’s also good practice to keep your CTAs consistent & clear not just in terms of the message, but also where you are sending people. Don’t use vague language or send people to dead-end web pages.

For example, if the goal is to get people to subscribe, make sure your CTA explicitly mentions the word “subscribe” and that it points them directly at your subscription page.

6. Use high quality images only

Blurry, pixelated images can really leave your readers with a bad impression. Not only do they look unprofessional, but they also smack of a post that’s been rushed out the door.

If you’ve spent time writing brilliant content, spend some time producing or researching some high quality images that match it. And that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on officially licensed images check out some of the many free image providers out there such as Pixabay or Unsplash to add some visual flair to your newsletter.

7. Make it skimmable

According to Statista, we spend an average of 10 seconds reading a branded email after opening it. That’s 10 seconds in which your reader skims your email content and makes a decision as to whether or they want to read more.

Ensuring your content is skimmable has two real benefits. First, it helps new readers make a snap decision on whether they should be reading more of your content. Secondly, it helps avid readers navigate to the content they are really looking for.

As we’ve mentioned in our previous post on how make your email newsletter more mobile friendly, headings and sub-headings are your friend. Use them to highlight the most valuable pieces of content in your newsletter, or signpost regular sections that you know your readers enjoy.

BONUS: Always send yourself a test email

Ok we know we’ve already said this in previous blogs. But it really is one of the most low effort, high rewards tests you can do to ensure your newsletter design works. If you’ve followed all the advice above, you’re probably already in a good place. But seeing your newsletter design and content in-situ will give you vital insight into how your actual subscribers will see it.

Not only do test emails help you spot the odd typo, they also help you see any design rendering errors that might occur on smaller screens.

Always. Send. Yourself. A test.

Got your own tips to share?

If you’ve got your own tips to designing a great newsletter, let us know at social@scriber.to and we’ll add the best ones to this post.