Author: Jacci Howard Bear
Newsletter Design Clinic: First Impressions
Evaluate Newsletter Design Against Goal of the Newsletter Design
Before you begin to analyze the layout, the writing, the use of graphics and white space of your newsletter design, pick up your newsletter and look at it as if for the first time. Too close to the subject? Ask a friend to help. Before you see the trees look at the forest.
One measure of a newsletter design effectiveness is the first impression a reader has upon seeing it. Does it say boring, exciting, read me now, save me for later, or, don’t bother – there’s nothing important here?.
Without reading more than a few words the nameplate, the choice of layout, the grayness or openness of the design, color and weight of the paper, the balance of text and graphics all give clues as to the value of the content. Or perhaps we should say the perceived value .
Will a new reader perceive value in your newsletter?
Design With Definite Goals in Mind for the Newsletter Design
One goal of good newsletter design is to entice the reader to read the information in the newsletter.
Designers achieve this through choice of layout typefaces and use of visuals.
But those choices should also be guided by other factors such as the purpose the audience and the desired image of the newsletter. The use of provocative images may catch a readers eye but do they represent the image the newsletter client wants to convey? Do they enhance or overshadow the message?
Ask These Questions About the Newsletter Design
Look at the newsletter design from the perspective of the new reader – someone seeing this newsletter for the first time.
- What is the purpose of the newsletter and who is the intended audience ?
The purpose and audience should be readily discerned simply by looking at the nameplate and perhaps the table of contents. Does the name of the newsletter or a subtitle tell the first time reader what to expect? Is this a topic that is likely to interest them? Is this a newsletter meant for consumers scholars professionals kids? Is the primary purpose to inform entertain generate sales or promote a cause?
- Who is sending this newsletter?
Disclosure can lead to trust. Hiding your identity as the publisher could lead the reader to question the true motive behind this newsletter. Is there a masthead listing the staff company or organization and contact information?
- What type of image does the newsletter reflect?
Does the newsletter have a formal or casual look? Does it appear to be carefully put together or simply slapped on paper and shoved out the door? The choice of paper its size and thickness also contribute to the image. Does it look cheap friendly elegant or institutional?
Does your first impression of the purpose sender and image hold true to the intended goal of the newsletter? If there is ambiguity or worse a conflict between the intended goals and what a readers sees at first glance then perhaps the newsletter design needs reworking.
Consistency, Conservation, Contrast and First Impressions
The first lesson of our newsletter design clinic looks at the three C’s of good design. Consistency, conservation, and contrast can also improve the overall appearance and first impression of a newsletter.
- Is the name of the newsletter or its subtitles consistent with the desired purpose and audience or do they imply something different?
- Do you want to convey a formal image? A clutter of typefaces and graphics gives an entirely different impression and isn’t consistent with a formal image.
- A lack of contrast between headlines and text and other elements can give an impression that the contents are boring or uninteresting. Is that the perception you want? Or is there conflict between serious nature of the content and the playful informal look of the newsletter?