Seek out applications that can help even the self-taught, would-be design artists, like me! Help can come in the form of templates available online – check out Campaign Monitor at http://www.campaignmonitor.com/templates/ or from applications such as Constant Contact www.constantcontact.com that are easy to learn and very affordable.
Keep it Simple
Don’t get too fancy in the design of your newsletter. Resist the temptation to use all the bells and whistles available. Create a banner for your newsletter that is consistent in color and design with your logo and website. Keep your major colors to a minimum so that your newsletter is easy to read and the recipient isn’t distracted by a calliope of carnival colors, typefaces, and illustrations. Think twice before using animation – use it sparingly for the same reason mentioned above.
Don’t change the design from month to month or newsletter to newsletter. Keep the banner consistent and the overall template the same to help establish recognition or branding with your logo, your company, and your message. Your content should change, of course, and so will your accompanying photos, but overall, the major elements of your design should be retained.
Use Alt Copy for Photos
In the event a recipient’s email will not download the photos in your email, you should provide alternative copy that will show on screen and describe the photo. Some email applications will not download photos unless the recipient completes a command to do so, so at least the description of the photo will print.
Test, Test, Test
Survey your friends to create a list of test recipients with different email systems – Outlook, G-Mail, AOL, Firefox – so you can send them a test email to determine if there are is any “funny stuff.” Do the lines break in a strange place? Do the photos print properly? Are the links active and correct? Once you have tested the newsletter with several email applications, you can send it to your entire database.