Good newsletter design is about creating a positive experience for the readers. Design can influence the way we feel and the decisions we make. For example, when you see a cluttered email with hundreds of colors, you want to close it and move on to something else. Even if that email has valuable information. Information is not scarce; you can find it anywhere. The ease of consuming that information will make you stand out from the rest.
Getting your content, email, or newsletter noticed in a world where so much information is becoming challenging. Email newsletter design is a way to make it easier to get in front of your audience.
A great-looking newsletter communicates the message effectively and is also aesthetically pleasing. You might think that aesthetics don't matter when you offer a discount or talk about your mission, but that's not the case. Both your message and how it is conveyed play a role in influencing people.
More importantly, email newsletter design is not just the look & feel. It is also how it structures the information for easy skimming, how it lays out the images, so they are responsive on mobile, or how well the CTAs are placed so that it's optimized for conversion.
As Steve Jobs said – "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. The design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs
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5 Recommendations for Creating a Good Newsletter Design
Keep ample white space
White space, also known as negative space, is the empty space between different items in your email. It helps to analyze, examine, and break down information into easily digestible chunks. Email doesn't look clunky, and people can focus on one piece of content at a time.
If you are using CTAs, white space around CTAs can make them stand out and make them easy to click (even if someone has a thick thumb like mine!).
After all, white space is not that negative!
Play with animations or GIFs
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a GIF/animation is a collection of images, so it must be worth a million words. A moving picture is more likely to catch someone's attention than a still picture.
This is not an opinion but a fact that is based on psychology. Our ancestors had to survive in the wilderness & which enhanced their response to a motion. That's why humans are biased towards movement.
GIFs and animations in the newsletter are a great way to make people spend a little more time reading your email and might influence them to take action.
Additional read: A simple guide to using GIFs in emails.
Stick to a design language
“Design Language” is used to describe the overall visual design of anything, be it website, email newsletter, blog content, or even products. It involves font used, color scheme, types of images allowed, how to highlight something, etc.
For example, we know that in Google, if something is underlined and has a blue color, it's a link to something else. It doesn't change every time you open a new doc. Similarly, you can define such elements for your newsletter and make sure they are followed by anyone who is creating a newsletter at any time.
Choosing a design language will give your newsletter consistency and people would see it as a brand rather than a random email.
Make it easy to skim through
Layout the information in your newsletter in a way that it's easy to skim through it and people can find the information that interests them, quickly.
The first line of a section of text or heading should present a hook or a definitive, concise argument so that readers are curious to know more. Ensure that each section makes a clear, instant point.
Readers are more likely to close your newsletter if it is jam-packed with text, graphics, and video (no matter how valuable the content is!). This is perhaps the most crucial of all of the email newsletter design tips we've listed.
Have an interactive design
Your newsletter should be interactive enough for the recipient to feel involved. And it should make them feel not only compelled to interact with the elements in your newsletter, but also make them feel that they will get good value for the effort to just click it.
For example, including a good CTA will get the reader to take action after reading your newsletter. If it's a tiny text hidden between paragraphs of text, it will more likely be missed. But imagine if it's a big button at the bottom of the text in contrasting colors and has a catchy text! Interested readers would be compelled to click it.
11 Examples of High-converting, Beautiful Newsletter Designs
Airbnb is an American company that runs an online marketplace for stays and experiences all around the world. They sent this newsletter to inform about their offerings and get people to book on their platform.
- Logo on top with a clean header shows simplicity. It makes the reader instantly know which brand has sent this email.
- The information is structured nicely with the use of bold header, simple subheading, images, followed by CTA for different categories. That makes it easy to skim through the email.
- CTAs are subtly wrapped in gray borders, making them less overwhelming and focusing attention on visuals that convey the real experience.
- Images are placed in a square container but formatted in different ways to fit that space.
Finn is a company that makes supplements & vitamins for dogs. This newsletter is part of their promotional campaign to promote their bestsellers.
- In complete contrast to the Airbnb newsletter, Finn's newsletter is full of bold colors.
- They've underlined the important information on top to draw attention.
- It's structured in a single-column layout, making it quick to scroll through the email.
- The header is clearly distinctive from the email body because of the colors.
- CTA is placed at the top, above the fold if someone views it on mobile. This helps improve conversions.
Beardbrand is a company that makes grooming products for men. This newsletter is part of their series to educate subscribers to groom their bread and plug in their product.
- The text format makes it easy to read without any distractions.
- Alternative background color for the listicle makes the content look easy to read.
- There is ample white space between the sections and, even the headline and the description that in spite of a lot of content, the email looks clean and invites the reader to go through it.
- The top part with three tabs makes the email look like a menu and hence helps drive traffic to the website.
Outline is best described on their website. It says, "The Outline is a new kind of publication founded by journalists and storytellers. We’re dedicated to telling the right stories for right now, and our coverage is focused on the increasingly complex confluence of culture, power, and technology."
This is their weekly newsletter & just like their website, it's colorful.
- Outline email is very colorful but instead of choosing multiple colors, they have chosen only a few and played around with them to create catchy picture tiles.
- The color distinction of the headline & subheading breaks up the text making it easy to read.
- Dark background color makes the bright-colored text and images pop up nicely.
- Use of bold, purple and black colors make it clean and brand-aligned.
- It follows a clear sequence of sections - image with logo, headline, subheading, CTA, bullets and finally one more CTA. It's easy to navigate through this on mobile as well.
- They used only two fonts but in different weights to create text-hierarchy.
- Listicle is clearly marked with big numbers.
Dossier is a perfume brand that provides clean, ethical and high-quality versions of iconic perfumes. This newsletter is part of their educational series.
- They followed a zig-zag pattern of images & text. This breaks monotony and adds visuals to keep the attention on the page.
- There's a clear white background that increases readability and makes the images stand out.
- The font, image placement, CTA, etc. are all simple and elegantly used. This format would also be best to show some best-selling products.
Teachable is an online platform for people to host their online courses, and coaching services. They send out a promotional newsletter whenever there's a new free/paid event.
- It has the most important information – name & date of the event – on the top.
- The big image used in the header creates a visual experience to help people imagine themselves in that scenario and thus take action.
- There is ample white space between texts which increases the readability.
- The CTA could have been placed higher above to improve conversations.
The School of Life Newsletter
The School of Life is an educational company that offers advice on life issues.
This newsletter was sent to get traffic to their blog and promote their books that they have on their website.
- Different sections are separated by different colors. That makes it easy to focus on the part that's important for the reader.
- They've mixed-and-matched different layouts – there's a single-column layout in the first section, two columns in the second section, and three columns in the third section.
- Curved, white-colored CTAs over the colored background pop up nicely to draw attention.
Moment is a marketplace for photographers and filmmakers.
This newsletter introduces their photography challenges and gives tips on capturing good fall season images.
- Their top section is very creative. They've mixed photos, lines and text beautifully.
- The newsletter reflects the fall colors , goes with the theme.
- The contrast of the background and text over it makes the text easy to read. It's either dark background & light text or vice-versa.
- They've used the Christmas theme really well by picking the red from the Christmas and mixing it well with their iconic green & white colors.
- The image, text and CTA are arranged in what we call an inverted pyramid structure. That helps lead the reader to the CTA
- Different texts are differentiated by using capitalization, different font size and weight.
Apple, as we know, is one of the most admired brands, and largest tech companies in the world. This newsletter was sent after they hosted their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in 2020.
- The use of brand colors - black & white - help make no mistake that it's from Apple. Builds immediate trust and gains attention.
- Big, vibrant images of their products break up the monotony of the text.
- CTAs are very subtle but have a vibrant blue color.
- The black background helps enhance the vibrancy of the images, text, and CTAs
If you are not a designer, designing a good-looking and high-converting email for your newsletter that you have to send out regularly can seem like a daunting task.
That's where newsletter templates can come in handy. You can create one in HTML and change content every time by keeping the design fixed. Or you can choose an ESP that has templates. Make sure your designs are always mobile responsive. Meaning, the text is not cut, CTAs are not distorted or images don't overlap each other when viewed on mobile. The email design should be adjusted according to the device it is viewed on.
SendX is one such email marketing tool that allows you to create, send and analyze beautiful emails. It has 20+ mobile-responsive templates that are useful for a variety of use cases and industries.