Benjamin Franklinstraat 513
3029 AC Rotterdam

Designing for email

December 21st, 2016

Revue is a content curation platform driven by email. With Revue people can subscribe to newsletters that fit their interest and receive a nicely formatted email once the curator publishes his issue.

Based on feedback, feature requests and research, Revue figured it was time to take the platform to the next level by introducing (built-in) themes. Revue learned that their target audience is really broad varying from investors to food bloggers, so they want to offer their users the possibility to choose from different themes.

We’re really thankful to be the first ever to design a theme for Revue because it gave us a blank slate when it comes to choosing a target audience. We decided to focus on journalists, photographers and bloggers because those people truly rely on great typography and beautiful imagery. By focusing on those two principles we wanted to create a theme that gives the content the podium it deserves.

Great typography and photography also brought us back to the exploration of the Awkward brand. We originally got our inspiration from editorial design and art, which made us eager to design a newsletter theme with inspiration from the same things. But before we dove into aesthetics we summed up the current functionality and discussed the roadmap as well as existing known problems with the current theme.

We quickly realized that editorial design depends on different types of layouts. Once we figured that out, we proposed it to Revue and they got a little anxious because the email medium is very outdated. In collaboration we set priorities and decided to begin with releasing one new layout and extend the theme. More layouts will be added once the back-end is ready and Revue validated that people actually use our theme.

Revue originally only allowed people to choose between a left / right aligned thumbnail or no thumbnail at all. We took the thumbnail a little further by allowing people to enlarge it to spread the full width of the canvas. Users already appeared to be hacking around the current limits in order to achieve this effect, so adding it to our template made total sense.

Putting the content first

The most reported feedback by Revue users is that the header takes up too much space. At first we didn’t really understand why people disliked the header, because visually it felt balanced. Although we realized that if we truly want to focus on the content of the newsletter the author section shouldn’t be the first thing people see when opening the email. People are already subscribed with a reason, so a reminder of such size seemed to be overkill. Therefore, we decided to move the author section to the footer.

What’s next?

This wasn’t only a trip out of our own comfort zone but also for Revue. Revue always believed in less is more but this principle would slowly fade away with the introduction of themes. For us the email medium is quite new, but together we created something we really believe in within just four days.

On top of designing the email theme we helped Revue with some UX problems they faced whilst integrating themes into their service. Four days seems like a short period of time but we think we’ve built a good foundation for a great partnership. Read our showcase for more information on Revue.

To be continued…