Just make stuff easy for people to consume.

A couple of weeks again we shifted over to a responsive email design for The Fetch. For those new to responsive design, it’s an approach aimed at creating products and websites that adjust and optimise readability for whatever view format they’re in – be in desktop, tablet or mobile. (And maybe even wearable devices like Google Glass!)

We’d be meaning to make the shift for a long time but when you’re a resource-strapped startup, going responsive is one thing and for email design, another. After more nudging from our audience to make the change, we were lucky in that we had the amazing Ros Hodgekiss from Campaign Monitor (our email partners) to lead the process. (As an aside, CM has some great resources available on responsive design in their Guides section.) Our two-column link-loving format at The Fetch wasn’t something I wanted to lose and with this new design, we didn’t have to. When you now view the digest on your mobile you see one easy-to-read column and when back in the browser, the two-column. Check out the hybrid layout below:


More emails are now read via mobile than on a desktop email client or via webmail. Check out this post for the statistics. Pretty huge thing to take in but I feel this is really representative of my own behaviour. Every time I’m on the go, such as walking to a meeting or checking my mail when I wake up and go to bed (a bad habit I don’t like to admit!), it’s all via my iPhone. Our community currently opens The Fetch anywhere from 20-25% (across city) on a mobile device and these are people who are often at their desks working…

It’s also been interesting to see how our metrics have altered in a short period of time. Our unsubscribe numbers (which are already < 0.5%) appear to be going down and trackable forwarding of the emails has gone up. My conclusion is that readers are more likely to switch off, disengage and remove themselves when they can’t absorb what’s in front of them. Before, The Fetch involved a bit of pinch and zooming to be legible on a mobile and due to the amount of links included, could look overwhelming. The forward to a friend/coworker link was also hard to locate pre-responsive days and now it’s nice and clear. What hasn’t been noticeable yet is any difference to our click-through and open rates. Hoping to see if these go up over the coming months.

Since this update, I’ve been going on a bit of a general responsive craze – changing my personal blog as well as this one over too. I’ve also turned off the stock mobile themes that often come with WordPress in favour of keeping the original styling.

There are many others things to consider with creating beautiful email products, which I’m not got to touch on here. If you’re recently gone responsive, feel free to do a show and tell in the comments below.

For more ‘inbox love’ articles, check out this piece on ‘Email-led startups‘.

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