Newsletter Redesign

My Role

Research, UX Design, UI Design

Team Members

Chris Combs, Rosa Cartagena


Subscription rates for Washingtonian newsletters were declining, and unsubscription rates were increasing.


We surveyed 1,609 Washingtonian site visitors over the course of a month. We asked site visitors if they:

  • Knew about our newsletters.
  • Subscribed to our newsletters.
  • Subscribed to other newsletters and what do they love about those newsletters.

We also conducted interviews with key stakeholders (advertising reps, editors, and the publisher) to learn what they would like to see in the end design, what goals they have for the end product, and what they believe are current pain points for our newsletter subscribers.

Washingtonian Things to Do newsletter before the redesign. There's no way for users to find other Washingtonian newsletters and users have to click on a newsletter story to get the information they are looking for.

What we learned

Forty percent of people surveyed subscribed to at least one Washingtonian newsletter, but nearly half of those respondents didn’t know all the different newsletters we offer.

We also found out that people surveyed liked newsletters from theSkimm, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and 7:30DC because they are brief, conversational, and easy to read.


Based on feedback from survey respondents and stakeholders, we came up with two solutions to increase subscription rates and decrease unsubscription rates:

  1. Cross-promote other newsletters within newsletters and make it easier for people to subscribe to newsletters from the homepage and article pages.
  2. Design newsletters that are more conversational and that subscribers can easily read from their inbox. Reduce the steps it takes for subscribers to read a story or get information.

Working with the marketing art director, we created house ads for newsletters to promote our other newsletters. This ad is promoting our Things to Do newsletter.

Brunches newsletter with Things to Do cross-promo ad.

An article page with a promotional unit to sign up for our Weekend newsletter.

Section page with a Health newsletter sign-up promotion. These sign-ups are on the homepage and section page, and they promote different newsletters Washingtonian offers.

To make the newsletters more conversational, we restructured them to be more text-heavy. Users now don't have to click out of their inbox to read the information they are interested in. Above, the redesigned Things to Do newsletter.


We immediately began to see positive results from making it easier to subscribe from the homepage and article pages via interstitial pop-out ads and in-article house promotions.

Since implementing both solutions, we have seen 45% increase in newsletter subscribers.

We are also currently sending out surveys to all of Washingtonian newsletter subscribers, asking them specifics about their wants/needs/pain points with our newsletters and what they’d like to see in our newsletters from now on.

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