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[T4] Newsletters - Creating a custom newsletter

When you are creating a custom newsletter, there are a couple of things that you need to plan for first.

  1. Plan out your format. The most popular newsletters have a header, two columns for content (one being smaller in width than the other) and a footer section. Scroll down for newsletter options and code to download.
  2. Decide if you are going to use a navigation that points to your main site

  3. Decide what to add to your footer if you are going to use one
  4. Make sure your branding is consistent with whatever you are marketing towards.

Remember these rules for generic newsletters:

  1. Don't use too many links. It will look spammy to some readers and block your newsletters if you use too many links (try to keep it below 6. It's ok if you go over, but just watch out)
  2. Keep the image load light. If a design element can be achieved with a background color instead of an image, do that.
  3. Don't make your whole newsletter one big image. That will take too long to load in most cases

Remember these rules for Outlook '07

  1. Don't build your site with all styles. Tables are read much better and will be less likely to break because the newest Outlook doesn't read positions or floats.
  2. If you are using background colors for tables, don't embed tables and divs within the table or the color will disappear.
  3. You can only used a tiled background image for the body tag. Outlook '07 doesn't allow you to give specifications to background positions or repeats.

For more on designing for Outlook '07, read this help file.

Now that you have everything planned out, Go ahead and start your design. You have a lot of flexibility but as far as specs go, I would

  1. Not go larger than 800px. Some monitors are still at smaller resolutions and you don't want anyone to miss your message.
  2. Design your newsletter knowing that it will grow vertically. Don't plan on using fixed heights because once you add html text, it will end up larger or smaller than you planned
  3. Don't use background images. Again, this is an Outlook 2007 thing. More people are on it today so just plan on using background colors instead.
  4. Try to center the layout. Most newsletters are centered so it is what people are used to. You can flush it left, but just know that people are used to centered.

Here are some text files of code to download as a start.

Two Column Left Two Column Right

Two Column

One Column

In these files, they all have embedded styles and tags wrapped around the content areas so they shold be easy to implement.

If you are using Tendenci in your site, you can send us your code after you have it built and we can make it an option in the newsletter choices when generating a newsletter. Just let Schipul know where you want to the default content to show up.

For more examples of newsletter formats, check out this link