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In order to speed up newsletter development I've compiled a short list of essential ui elements included in a newsletter design to make sure that the user's experience is the best it can be. Have I missed anything?

  1. Header
    1. There is a snippet at the top that displays next to the subject line in for example Gmail.
    2. There is a link to a web version of the newsletter with text "Does this newsletter looks strange? View it on the web".
  2. Footer
    1. There is a unsubscribe-link
    2. There is a block of contact info such as address, phone, e-mail, Facebook account etc.
    3. There is a paragraph about why the user has received the newsletter.
  3. General

    1. It's possible to read and understand the newsletter even if images are turned off by the email client.
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Add to the below answers a "preview slug." The first text appearing in your email should be a sub-title of the subject line or some sort of brief teaser. Otherwise, the preview people will see (and commonly do) is "Having trouble viewing this email? Open it…" –  tajmo Jan 24 '12 at 18:44
    
@TonyBolero: If we've answered your question, you can select the best solution so that if anyone comes across the same problem in the future, they know the course of action. –  dnbrv Feb 7 '12 at 18:39

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I am not sure if this really is a UI question, since it primarily involves information and which options to make available to the user, but here is what the Mailchimp "Email Marketing Field Guide" has to say about the Anatomy of a Good Newsletter:

  1. Your company name in the From field. Recipients should recognize who the email is from instantly. It can’t be deceptive in any way (duh). If a recipient has to strain his brain to remember who you are, he’ll click “This is spam” instead of opening.
  2. A relevant subject line (don’t be spammy), with your company or newsletter name in it. So they instantly know who the email is from, and what it’s about (hence, subject line).
  3. The To field of your email should be personalized to the recipient’s name, not their email address.
  4. A one-click opt-out link that removes people from your list immediately. Consider placing it at the top of your email as well as in the footer, so that people who want off your list can easily find it (instead of clicking their “Junk” button).
  5. In addition to your opt-out link, you might also include a link in your header for recipients to “View this email in your browser.” Point it to an archived version of your email on your server. This helps if the email was forwarded to friends, and got mangled along the way.
  6. Your valid, physical mailing address (P.O. boxes aren’t good enough), and as much contact information as possible. The more contact information you provide, the more reputable your email will look.
  7. Bonus: It’s a really good idea to also include some kind of reminder text, like “You are receiving this email because you signed up at our website.” People forget opting-in to lists, and they get a little trigger-happy with the “This is spam” button. That can get you reported to the major ISPs, so you want to prevent it. Also, in the rare case that a recipient reports you to an anti- spam organization, having this reminder text can make the difference between a server admin blacklisting you forever, or contacting you for further explanation.

They do a pretty good job with their newsletter templates and are worth seeing to get some ideas.

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For longer newsletters with plenty of sections and news items it is customary to include a ‘Content of this newsletter’ list with links that anchor to the relevant sections.

enter image description here

http://gallery.campaignmonitor.com/ViewEmail/r/EFFB436FE1822F6B/

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So you could have your criteria set out as 1.0 Header 1.1 Navigation 2.0 Footer 3.0 General –  DigiKev Jan 19 '12 at 17:39

In addition to the other answers, a layout that works with minimal technology assumptions -- small screen, images off, accessibility options (like large fonts) on, etc. This is partly about liquid design but also avoiding elements that are almost guaranteed to cause problems: multi-column layouts, tables, anything with hard-wired size or colors.

A way to get a plain-text version, in case you fail at any of the above.

Relevant email addresses, particularly opt-out, visible in the newsletter, not hidden behind a "click here" link. (If I print the newsletter to read on the internet-less bus, when I get to work I should be able to read the RSVP address for that event that's coming up so I can send email directly.)

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Opt out link in the message body? Maybe I've misunderstood you, but I would never look for it anywhere but at the bottom of the email. Making something like that harder to find by putting it in the message body does not seem like a good idea. –  Wesley Murch Jan 19 '12 at 21:40
    
Sorry, I meant that where you display that option (which may be at the bottom of the body, i.e. the footer, but it's still the body of the email message), it should contain an actual address and not just a "click here" directive. I'll clarify. –  Monica Cellio Jan 19 '12 at 23:00

I would direct you to read what Jakob Nielsen has written about email newsletter usability:

Some of these colums are fairly old, but in my opinion by following Nielsen's advice on usability you never are very wrong.

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1  
Could you add a little bit of info about what's contained in each link? –  Rahul Jan 20 '12 at 14:02

Just a few thoughts:

  • Links to your social media properties
  • Any upcoming events (60 days out)
  • Forward to a friend
  • Share on facebook, twitter, and linkedIn
  • Brand Logo
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Hi Nick, welcome to UX! Could you explain how these suggestions are beneficial to the list from a UX point of view? –  Rahul Jan 19 '12 at 15:25
1  
Those are marketing not usability elements. –  dnbrv Jan 19 '12 at 15:25
    
UX is more than usability though. –  Erics Jan 20 '12 at 10:58

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