All posts in ‘Design’

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Autumn News Is Here, But First You Must Decode It

In comparison to one of Sarah’s last posts, where she shows off snazzy examples of good alt-text usage, I’ll be showing off some examples that are not so flattering.

This newsletter made it’s appearance in my inbox recently, it comes from a large department store here in Malmö; I won’t be saying any names this time around. For this example, they’re lucky most email clients block images.

It’s not unheard of for us to go through email without an internet connection, and naturally, the images from a newsletter will pull a no show without one.

Here’s our newsletter example, without its WIFI-enhanced clothing:

Behold! A giant gray box, cute blue boxes therein and strange cryptic code scattered throughout.

In the header:
DVR 3005781

In the footer:

Does this code mean anything to me? Why do we communicate with our customers like this?

I don’t know how to break it to you, but, this is not good.

I think the problem is that many companies, oddly enough after 40 years, still do not understand that email is a communication channel. They see it solely as an advertising medium and believe that an attractive product image will do the job.

Allow me to exaggerate for the sake of a point. Check out my new Twitter profile below. I’ve updated my profile picture, and I’ll be tweeting irrelevant code from now on. I’m trying to get more followers.

Do you see my point?


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

We Do Say ”Thank You!” – Or Don’t We?

If we make a deal or an agreement or maybe confirm some kind of trade … What is it we usually do in such a case? Well, we shake hands or in some other way confirm that we have a deal. But how often do we see this when it comes to confirmations of a subscription to a newsletter? Rarely, I’m sorry to say.

If customers share something that is dear to them – their email address – which means that the senders of the newsletter are able to get in touch with the customers whenever they like – wouldn’t it be appropriate to say thank you? And at the same time make it very clear what the deal is about. When I register to a newsletter I sooo often get the same message; something about that I’ve now been added to their list for newsletters. In the worst cases I’ve been told that I’m now on their ”customer list”. I’ve even been called a ”bronze customer”!

Below are some examples of good confirmations:

Thank you popup

So, say ”Thank You” to a new reader and work a little with the design – that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Here’s another one; they show a little humor, which makes them feel free to ask for a little more if the customer show some appreciation:

Thank you screen

I do like the following example because it tells me once again what we agreed on (and then they ask for some more information):

Thank you landing page

Next one tells me how happy they are having a friend like me, they even drink a little(?) champagne – without me, it seems, but that’s all right!

Thank you email

So check out in what way you confirm a subscription or a membership – both as a message on the web and as a confirmation email. To say thank you and confirm an agreement is, in fact, just an ordinary courtesy – and I don’t give a damn about what your email provider thinks about it or what is the easiest for you. This is all about what is the easiest, the finest, and the nicest for your customers! Always priority no 1!


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Fine Contrasts in a Margin Adjusted Newsletter

This newsletter from Raymond Weil – which I receive once a month – is a very simple, but stylish newsletter. I do like the design; it’s special enough despite the simplicity and the narrow format. The balance between text and picture is perfect and the contrasts are stark. They place the pictures in an unusual way and overlap the margin to the left. Really stylish!

Raymond Weil Newsletter

Another fine detail – which you don’t really notice at first sight – add a lot to the design: The text is margin adjusted. The text paragraphs make square blocks since they form a straight line on both sides. This is something you usually do in printed matters and it doesn’t always work out so well on a computer screen. It often creates big apertures between the words – especially in Swedish where we often use long compounds. I – for one – would never use this technique for a Swedish webpage.

But in English it works much better and in this newsletter it looks really good. And it works equally good in an iPhone thanks to the narrow format of 500 pixels in width.

Raymond Weil Newsletter

Raymond Weil’s newsletter has no problem with the spam filters and I’ll give it three hearts for a stylish letter and for fine watches. As for the rest, the content isn’t quite that interesting, I’m sorry to say.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

E-mail Design for Mobile Users

A few good points to consider when designing newsletters for mobile users:

  • Use a slightly bigger text than you usually use for home pages. Small text links are difficult to point at.
  • Avoid text sizes smaller than 12 pixels.
  • The same goes for small buttons. Mobile users are often distracted too. (62% use their cell phone when watching television.)
  • Apple recommends a pixel size of at least 44×44 for ”pointable” objects – text links and picture links in this case.
  • Microsoft recommends you to increase the pointing area of the links if they are close to the screen edge.
  • Graphics with poor contrast will probably be barely visible on a mobile screen.

Some of these points are pretty obvious, but I must confess that it has happened that I’ve forgotten the simple solution of just increasing the size of the text. These self-evident(?) reminders will make it a lot easier for our mobile users!

Read the whole article on Style Campaign.

Monday, 1 August 2011

There’s No Topic Too Specific for a Newsletter

A newsletter about fonts only – is that okay? Of course it is, at least if you’ve got the world’s largest collection of fonts on the web.

I subscribe to MyFonts’ newsletters for inspiration, but also because of my interest in typography.

I do like the way they present the fonts – big and clear – with a little story or presentation of the designer for every font. Maybe the pictures are a bit too large, though. Even so I feel that the relation between text and picture is well balanced, which is a good thing, otherwise the letter might get stuck in spam filters, and it’s easy too scroll through the fonts to see if there’s something you like.

Rising Stars

There’s a big newsletter archive on the web since seven years. It’s pretty fun to compare the very first newsletter of 2004 with the latest one of 2011.

Rising Stars

The question is how it’s possible to keep a newsletter alive for so many years. But obviously there’s no topic too narrow or specific for a newsletter. The circle of readers is probably limited – but surely dedicated.

At the very bottom of the letters there’s a little space for the readers’ comments.

Rising Stars

I have designed my own fonts a few times and I can testify that it’s quite demanding when it comes to precision and very time consuming! It’s not to be recommended for someone without a great deal of patience. I haven’t so far dared to try fonts with serifs; I still keep to the straighter ones.

Here’s my latest procreation:

Rising Stars

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