Nerd Alert 141: We wish you a merry weekend

We wish you a merry weekend
We wish you a happy weekend
We wish you a restful weekend
And a happy day off ♬

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Ben: The RNNoise Project is collecting donations of noise to help improve real-time noise suppression algorithms. Record a sample in your browser, review it to make sure that there's nothing sensitive, and submit. It's that easy!

RC: Pierrick Calvez's "A Five Minutes Guide to Better Typography" is a beautifully-laid-out demonstration of its own principles.

Julia: “Want readers to start trusting you? Stop stalking them across the internet,” says Melody Kramer.

Kay: How are you treating your most committed users? You have potential to expand your loyal members/followers/supporters and you can start with talking to them like they matter.

Inndy: Other robots are calling you, and it’s because the Do Not Call list has a big hole in it.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Listen up!

The News Match logo is plain text that reads: News Match. Quality Journalism Matters.

News Match is back, and our team is working to help participating organizations take advantage of this unique and impactful opportunity. Read more about how we can help, and check back here every week for updates. We’ll be posting plugin release announcements, how-tos for configuring donation forms, best practices for user experience design, and advice on maximizing Google Analytics for donation campaigns. You won’t want to miss it.

EVENTS/DEADLINES

Be in the know

October 6: Last day to apply for Catalyst AAJA’s Media Entrepreneurship Program
October 13-14: Computation and Journalism Symposium 2017 at Northwestern University
October 14: Last day to apply to participate in the Washington News Nerds’ Tacoma (un)conference
November 3: Deadline for proposals for Propublica’s Local Reporting Network
December 1-3: WordCamp US in Nashville
December 7-8: SRCCON:WORK in Philadelphia

SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

A graph showing the percent of Puerto Rican power customers who have service. It starts below 5% and slowly grows to 10.7%.

When FEMA removed drinking water and power statistics from its page covering Puerto Rico's recovery, The Washington Post started graphing those stats. And FEMA started posting those stats again.

The Financial Times has created an eye-opening game based on real reporting, including interviews with dozens of Uber drivers, that shines a light on the realities of working in the gig economy. You're an Uber driver. Can you make your mortgage payment?

Do you develop or maintain database-reliant interactive websites? How will they be preserved for the future? Katherine Boss at New York University Libraries, and Meredith Broussard at the New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute are conducting a survey of news apps, to help figure out what the best ways to archive such projects are.

GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

NPR is hiring a product designer.

The Center for Public Integrity is hiring a news developer.

St. Louis Public Radio is hiring a digital engagement producer and a bunch of other positions.

Poynter has a massive roundup of journalism internships and fellowships.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

DISCOVER

Gather ye rosebuds

READ: Wordways, an open-access journal dedicated to "recreational logology."

LISTEN: It’s Halloween Month, but if you don’t want to listen to the Otomatone cover of Spooky Scary Skeletonscheck out The Guardian's list of the best 50 tracks from September. 🎶

PLAY: Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing meets Asteroids in Ztype.

WATCH: Three hours and 47 minutes of live YouTube comments being fed into a shredder.

EAT: Overnight sous-vide bacon.

DRINK: Pumpkin beverages — including ones without pumpkin spice!


It’s been a tough week. You survived!

The Pokémon Staryu floats against a blue background with motion-blurred purple and white stripes. From its central gem, endless streams of stars pour towards the viewer.

You get a star!

Nerd Alert 139: Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

HOT LINKS

  RC: The U.S. Digital Service published a check-in with a few of their alumni to share what they worked on during their time in government, and what they’re up to now.

  Kay: How does your organization set goals? Are they “audacious” enough? Here’s an argument for dreaming big.

  Julia: While Google’s AMP promises improved speed and search rankings, “the cost for the web, and for those who do business on it, is much, much too high."

  Ben:  WordPress is moving away from React because of Facebook’s patent license clause.

  Inndy: Raise a glass to Cassini - a true to friend to humankind over the last 20 years.


WE MADE A THING

Julia and RC joined the good folks from The Trust Project in Washington, DC this week to design better patterns for citations and references on news sites. Here are two concepts they came up with:

  • CiteLine – citations that improve transparency for the story development process.
  • Extra Info Layer – methods, techniques, and ideas for adding additional story components to articles.

EVENTS / DETAILS

Sept. 18: Deadline to propose a session for SRCCON:WORK, happening Dec. 7-8 in Philly.

Sept. 22: Last day to pitch talks to the 2018 Computer Assisted Reporting conference, aka NICAR.

Sept. 23: Data Journalism Bootcamp at CUNY – sign up soon!

Sept. 29: Last day to apply for a Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship.


SHOUT OUT

The Chicago Reporter published a fabulous interactive that monitors Chicago’s police reforms.

Databae is a new open-source initiative to share one-off newsroom code.


GET A JOB

Our friends at Alley Interactive are hiring a Director of Javascript Development.

CORRECTIV’s Nerds Team is hiring a full-stack Python developer.

NY Public Radio is hiring a data reporter.

Reese News Lab is hiring a data scientist.

Deseret News is hiring a data visualization / editorial developer.

WGBH with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting is hiring an investigations editor.

The Center for Civic Design is hiring a usability researcher.

CALmatters is hiring an audience engagement manager.

Reese News Lab is hiring a data scientist.

100 Days in Appalachia is hiring a digital managing editor.

WNYC is hiring a data reporter.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


SOME OTHER STUFF

READ:  The Hidden Life of Trees.

LISTEN: Human Music.

WATCH: Studio Ghibli in Real Life.

EAT: Bacon Wrapped Grilled Peaches.

DRINK:  Make your own homemade Hard Apple Cider.

 


Get outside an enjoy a good campfire this month!

Nerd Alert 138: What if we all worked together on something?

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

Ben: Content “blocks” are the happening thing. WordPress is working on Gutenberg. Tumblr is moving from plain HTML to the Neue Post Format. ProPublica now runs on Craft, which is built around blocks. What else is out there?

RC: Jake Spurlock’s presentation, A Biased Guide to Managing Bias, is a must read.

Julia: This post on the narrowing gap between design and code suggests that a new era of design etiquette is upon us.

Kay: Designing, developing, and testing for multiple screen sizes has its challenges - including not being able to work with multiple devices at the same time. That’s why I was excited to read about XRespond, a tool made to simplify that process and give you an all-in-one overview.

Inndy: Fear dumb robots.

PEOPLE ARE MAKING THINGS

Helpful projects that you can join

This is a roundup of all Irma-related things that people can contribute to remotely: mapping projects, newsroom projects, and so on:

The above is what ran in the Nerd Alert Newsletter sent on Friday, September 8. We're keeping an updated version of this list over here.

 

EVENTS/DEADLINES

Be in the know

This Saturday, September 9, is the last day to fill out the OpenNews News Nerd Survey.

September 22: Last day to pitch talks to the 2018 Computer Assisted Reporting conference, aka NICAR.

September 23: Data Journalism Bootcamp at CUNY – sign up soon!

September 29: Last day to apply for a Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship.

SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

The logo of Coral Project's Talk software is a text bubble with three hollow circles in it.
The Washington Post is now using Talk, the Coral Project’s commenting platform. It'll help them engage with commenters, instead of the too-common approach of turning comments off.

 

GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

ProPublica is hiring a senior reporting fellow and a contract animator.

CALmatters is hiring an audience engagement manager.

Reese News Lab is hiring a data scientist.

100 Days in Appalachia is hiring a digital managing editor.

WNYC is hiring a data reporter.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

 

DISCOVER

Gather ye rosebuds

READ: I downloaded an app. And suddenly, was part of the Cajun Navy 📲

LISTEN: Bohemian Rhapsody on a fairground organ 🎶

WATCH: A webcam on Miami Beach ⛱

EAT: Do-it-yourself Meals Ready to Eat 🍴

DRINK: Clean water 🚰

PLAY: The Magic Door ✨

 


 

Stay dry, friend.

An illustration of a white cat sitting on the edge of a pool, watching the goldfish swim. This is in a garden with lots of cabbage.

Nerd Alert 135: Hello from WordCamp!

We're at WordCamp for Publishers this week, so this Nerd Alert is a little light.

If you’re in Denver, come say hi! 👋

If not, never fear! You can follow the events on Twitter at #wcpub, and check out our team's slides here:

You're invited to join us remotely for Contributor Day! The event kicks off tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. MT, and RC will be leading collaboration on Largo. Take a look at the issues on GitHub and jump in wherever you can!

HOT LINKS

  RC: If you haven’t checked out the WP GraphQL project yet, here’s a great presentation on how and why you’d want to get started using it.

  Kay: Tech platforms have long stood by strict neutrality and freedom of expression. That may now be changing.

  Julia: Some Internet history for your Friday afternoon: The languages that almost became CSS.

  Ben: The processes described in this blog post sound incredibly inadvisable – changing a computer’s operating system in place as it runs, live, without rebooting, in a production environment – but Magento did it, and it worked.

  Inndy: Robot dance party?

SOME OTHER STUFF

LISTEN: Beethoven's Pathétique Sonata

EAT: Blueberry Crisp Tart with Oat Crust

DRINK: Nutella Latte

WATCH: You owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse


Whoa.

A dolphin, a whale and a seal bob up and down in the ocean, wearing eclipse glasses, while the sun flicks on and off as the moon passes in front of it.

Nerd Alert 134: What will you listen to this weekend?

HOT LINKS

  Ben: Jenn Schiffer's essay about not policing code ecosystems makes a good point: it's not a good thing for coders or for code ecosystems if people get chased out for not meeting some arbitrary bar of worthiness.

  Julia: The Schools of Journalism dives into the varying communities in the journalism industry, the “interesting” times we live in, and ways to approach the future.

  Kay: An incredibly inspiring coder.

  RC: The guy who invented those annoying password rules now regrets wasting your time.

  Inndy: The Internet Archive is posting digitized 78prm records, and there are now a couple of Tweetbots: @great78project posts every 10 minutes; @78_sampler posts every 2 hours.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

No Office Hours next week — we're all attending WordCamp for Journalists in Denver. If you're in town, come say hi 👋 – and be sure to join us for Contributor Day on Saturday, 8/19, to work on the next Largo release!

WE MADE A THING

It's a map of the United States, with some states more shaded in green than others, according to which have more Largo users.
We’ve collected a partial list of sites using Largo in the wiki on INN/Largo. If you know a site that's not in the list, let us know!

EVENTS/DEADLINES

August 17-19: WordCamp for Publishers.
August 18: Last day to apply for the Poynter-NABJ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media.
September 29: Last day to apply for a Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship.

SHOUT OUT

Screenshots flicker past of Reveal's Sanctuary interactive, showing: Cook County Illinois, Clark County Nevada, Miami-Dade County Florida, and Chicago.
Reveal's "What makes a sanctuary?" compares policies between different sanctuary cities and states.

The Coral Project just released a set of guides designed to help people in journalism improve their strategy, skills, and understanding for effective community engagement.

ProPublica and Public.Resource.org have added an additional 1.9 million electronically-filed Form 990 documents to the Nonprofit Explorer database, bringing the total to more than 3 million records.

The New York Times has open-sourced a text-message-based facial-recognition system for members of Congress. It's called Who the Hill.

GET A JOB

Center for Public Integrity is hiring a data editor in DC.

The Texas Tribune is hiring an interactive designer/developer.

Chalkbeat is hiring a digital producer.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

DISCOVER

LISTEN: The Preytorians 📻

WATCH: Surfers playing with a floating dock 🌊

EAT: 17 different home-made ramen recipes 🍜

DRINK: A vanilla and fresh cherry bourbon cocktail 🍸


Watching MP3s being copied is nowhere near as fun.

A record press makes a record by pressing a blob of vinyl between two grooved platens.

 

Nerd Alert 151: Go Wild

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

  Ben: Read Atlanta Journal-Constitution intern Stephanie Lamm’s interview about how she mapped an affordable housing project that wasn’t providing useful data. And then read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Georgia News Lab article using that map.

  RC: I recently came across Coveralls, which seems like a really great way to keep yourself accountable about writing unit tests.

  Julia: This week in fun and interesting datasets: Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters.

  Kay: Check out this roundup of design and development books to read this summer. There’s something for coders, designers, and engagement managers – I recommend Elements of a Successful Website to everyone.

  Inndy: Swimming with dolphins is SO last year.

WE MADE A THING

Our projects, manifest

Meet the Team: Part 4

This week we get to know RC Lations, the Lead Developer of INN Labs.

 

 

EVENTS/DEADLINES

Stay in the know

Tickets for WordCamp for Publishers are still available! Get ‘em while they’re hot and say hello to the whole INN Labs team at the event from August 17-19. ?
You can also SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER!

August 1: Last day to submit a paper to the Computation+Journalism Symposium.

August 18: Last day to apply for the Poynter-NABJ Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media.

SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

Take a look at the latest installment of ProPublica’s maternal mortality series, and read about how the reporters approached crowdsourcing the dataset.

Check out this awesome behind-the-scenes look at how Brian Jacobs of National Geographic built an interactive 3D tour of a 110-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.

The LA Times Data Desk are building a tool to make making maps better. Check it out on GitHub at datadesk/web-map-maker.

GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

Reveal is hiring a radio and digital producer.

ProPublica Illinois is looking for an assistant director of development.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is hiring a network and security engineer.

Chalkbeat is hiring a digital producer.

Texas Tribune is hiring an interactive designer/developer.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Animals as Leaders at the Dunlop Sessions. ?

WRITE: Tell the FCC your opinion on Net Neutrality.

WATCH: The hydraulic press channel on YouTube (an oldie, but a goodie).

EAT: Easy Vegan Macaroons.

DRINK: Watermelon Margaritas.


Mesmerizing.

Nerd Alert 131: Robots are people!

HOT LINKS

What we're reading this week

  Ben: Is it safe to start using CSS Grid? Rachel Andrew, CSS Working Group invited expert, argues yes.

  RC: I’m really excited to check out Alley Interactive’s Voice WP project.

  Julia: The News Media Alliance has called on Congress to allow publishers to negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook – get more details from the New York Times and the Atlantic.

  Kay: INN is a fully remote team, so we’re always looking for new ways to improve our productivity across time zones. The team at Hanno put together a fantastic Remote Starter Kit and we’ll definitely be adopting a trick or two.

  Inndy: I’m a robot (or a puppet, depending on your interpretation of my life), so what I’m about to link to doesn’t apply to me. I’m willing to bet it applies to most of you who are reading this email, though. You’re probably a human, probably using software that probably lives outside your body. You may not have written it, might not own the box it runs on, might not even have paid for the use of the software. But that software is still part of you, right? Give the Universal Declaration of Cyborg Rights a read, and then refresh yourself on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Stop us if you've heard this one before

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled newsletter to inform you that the INN product and technology team has a new brand! Now known as INN Labs, we’re still the same nerds you know and love. Check out our new home at labs.inn.org.

WE MADE A THING

Our projects, manifest

We've built a WordPress plugin to make using the Knight Lab storytelling tools easier. Now anyone can begin using these tools in WordPress without any coding skills!

Timeline, StoryMap and Juxtapose get oEmbed support, while Soundcite gains a shortcode. Read more about it.

EVENTS/DEADLINES

Stay in the know

Last Call registration for the NABJ Annual Convention is open until July 19.

Registration for the AAJA National Convention ends July 19.

Apply for the Grist fellowship program by July 31.

If you're going to SRCCON, sign up to bring board games and teach hobbies.

Today is the last day to buy a ticket to WordCamp for Publishers and still get guaranteed meals, swag, and events access. Here's the full schedule.

SHOUT OUT

Work we admire by our journalism peers

Public Source launched Small Town, Pennsylvania, a beautifully illustrated multipart look into what life is like outside of the big cities.

GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

NPR is hiring a project manager/scrum master, a systems administrator, a web developer, a technology manager, a mobile developer, and a ton of interns.

ProPublica is hiring a data reporter and an editorial designer.

IRE is hiring a training director.

The Marshall Project is hiring a senior investigative reporter.

The Center for Public Integrity is hiring an audience engagement editor.

The Pew Research Center is hiring a DC-based senior developer for WordPress, PHP and JavaScript,

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

LISTEN: Human After All.

WATCH: Google DeepMind learning to run.

EAT: Sun-dried tomato and mozzarella quinoa veggie burgers.

DRINK: Roasted-peach lemonade.


The world's longest-burning light bulb.

People had a choice. They could continue wandering through the endless darkness, an absence of everything they loved, an endless void of disappointment and loneliness ... or they could look down, and embrace what they always have loved.

Nerd Alert 127: The magic word is nerd

HOT LINKS

RC: For an Inclusive Culture, Try Working Less.

Julia: The Stanford Open Policing Project released data on millions of state patrol stops – explore the data and review their findings..

Gabe: Here is an excellent curated list of all resources relating to Sass and SCSS, including frameworks, style guides and animations. (s/o to Aleszu for the link idea).

Kay: The case for why you need to think about author-focused design (instead of the typical reader-focused design).

Ben: The most interesting part of this list of 9 ways to end your stories is that they’re not just applicable to journalism. Good writing is good writing.

Inndy: This is what happens when you teach an AI to name guinea pigs.


WE MADE A THING

Our projects, manifest

Who’s behind the awesome INN tech team? We’re introducing a new series of blog posts for you to get to know us better. Our first post is about Ben Keith, our News Apps Developer.


EVENTS

Stay in the know

June 27: Last day to submit paper to Visualizar17: Migrations

June 27: Last day to apply for an Open News Ticket+Travel Scholarship

June 27: Curso de Realidad Virtual para Web (Online)

June 29: Google Amp, APIs and Tagging: Future Proofing Content @ the Trib (Austin, TX)

June 30: Last day to apply to be an Internet Freedom Festival Fellow

June 30: Last day to apply to Lenfest Institute’s Entrepreneur in Residence program and Local News and Information Innovation grants


SHOUT OUT

The Lens published a story tracking how many school lights work in New Orleans.
The Texas Tribune looked at which Texas bills passed and which failed.

The Knight Foundation has announced support for 20 projects aimed at increasing trust in the news and improving the spread of accurate information. Read more about the projects here.


LOVE NERD ALERT?

We love you back

Please consider supporting this newsletter with a donation to INN.

Or, if you'd rather contribute content over cash, be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks much!


GET A JOB

Good jobs with good people

NPR is hiring a Technology Manager, Web Developer, and Mobile Developer.

The University of Maryland is looking for a Lecturer on News Interaction Design and Development.

Vox is looking for a Front-End Engineer (Audience Development) and Senior Designer.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!


SOME OTHER STUFF

Gather ye rosebuds

READ: The Future is Not College But Compassion ❤️

LISTEN: Roxane Gay on Fresh Air ?

EAT: Miso Glazed Tofu ??

DRINK: Shiso Fine (Do-lang, Do-lang, Do-lang) ?

WATCH: How to do 12 different accents ?


And now, for my next trick...

Nerd Alert 126: Do Self-Driving Cars Dream of Analog Pedestrians?

HOT LINKS

RC: Why printers add secret tracking dots.

Julia: Stardust is a GPU-based data visualization library. These examples look pretty powerful.

Gabe: Jane Solomon used Python to analyze gun emoji pairings for all you linguist nerds. ?

Kay: Populace uses data from social media and other sources to display crowd densities - making it easier to find breaking stories. Read more about it here.

Ben: An update to the survey of newsroom boundary servers I ran a couple weeks back: only five found so far. If you know of any others, please add them to the list.

Inndy: I like the idea of cars talking to each other.

ANNOUNCEMENT

Office Hours today will feature our very own Kay Lima talking about the Google Search Console. Join us at 2 p.m. Eastern on Zoom: zoom.us/j/298377456

BE OUR GUEST!

B Cordelia Yu is a content and editorial strategist who is "totes available to join yer product and community teams."

The Personal Democracy Forum was last week and the speaker who excited me most was Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s digital minister, on stories from the future of democracy. She told us how civic hackers and journalists are using open data to educate about public policy and are building tools for inclusive participation to create the country’s laws†. The speaker before her, Colin Megill, talked about how they’re using machine learning to scale the process.

Normally I’m skeptical of folks touting tech as a solution to social complexity, but Taiwan’s civic hackers, journalists, scholars, and policymakers are coming together to create spaces for direct public participation in policymaking. Coming out of authoritarianism 30 years ago, their journos are sussing out what it means to be a free press in the time of the Internet—without our institutional baggage. So as I watch Taiwan, I wonder what it would mean to evolve our work from broadcasting truth to partnering with communities to discover truth and become bridges to speak to power.

† Is Taiwan a country? It’s complicated.


Be a guest contributor! Read more about that here and shoot us an email at nerds@inn.org if you're interested. We'd love to hear from you.

EVENTS/DEADLINES

Tickets are now on sale for WordCamp for Publishers!

Investigative Reporters and Editors' annual conference is in Phoenix next week, and Julia will be there. Say hi!

SHOUT OUT

A neon sign, red lettering "OPEN" surrounded by a light blue circle.

Last week, we linked to a security article on Source. This week, we get to link to the entire Security Week on Source. It’s got a guide to practical paranoia, an interview with the Director of Newsroom Security at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and a training guide for digital security in newsrooms. Give ‘em a read!

GET A JOB

The Coral Project is hiring a Lead Engineer.

National Geographic is hiring a Director of Cartography.

WBEZ is looking for an Interactive Producer.

The Federal Elections Commission seeks an IT Specialist.

If you're looking for general jobs in nonprofit news, check out the main INN newsletter and sign up here to get it in your inbox every Tuesday. Two INN newsletters are better than one!

SOME OTHER STUFF

LISTEN: Beethoven’s Sonata No.29 in B-flat Major, "Hammerklavier" ?

READ: Oil's Pipeline to America's Schools: Inside the fossil-fuel industry’s not-so-subtle push into K-12 education from The Center for Public Integrity.

WATCH: A Ghibli double feature.

EAT: Merguez with herby yogurt.

DRINK: Plenty of water.


A large truck drives along a dirt track until it smashes into a large metal pipe. The bumper goes under the pipe, the hood goes over the pipe, the truck comes to a stop in a cloud of dust.

From 2014, a truck barrier test.
No robots were harmed.

Email is a Sacred Space: Designing for Newsletters at SNDCLT 2017

In April I had the chance to attend Unite + Rebel, the Society for News Design’s annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here’s a take-away from one of the workshops I attended.

Newsletters are an increasingly effective way to distribute your content and build a brand – so what should you keep in mind when designing and writing for newsletters? Quartz’s Priya Ganapati offers some best practices to build your audience and make your newsletter effective.

Don’t resort to clickbait

Newsletters are not about the clicks. Your main goal is to build a relationship with your audience ー and that comes before circulating your content. Ganapati stressed that email is a sacred space. People use email for personal reasons, like communicating with family and friends. It’s important to not litter that space with clickbait.

You should also consider where you want your newsletter to be consumed. The Quartz Daily Brief is an effective newsletter because it can be consumed entirely inside the inbox. Readers have the option to visit articles, but they can also receive all the relevant information from just reading the newsletter itself. It’s quick and easy consumption.

Lenny Letter is another example of a newsletter that lives inside the inbox. The format is simple but effective. Readers can read one article entirely within the newsletter.

Establish a template for your readers and stick with it

Newsletters are habit-forming. Structure your newsletter so that your audience will expect to see the same sections in their inbox.

Ann Friedman’s newsletter is a great example of this – it’s the same format every week. You want subscribers to get used to a pattern. In Friedman’s case, she has sections dedicated to her writing, curated links, GIFs and more. She’s even managed to monetize members-only sections in her newsletter that require a paid subscription.

Prioritize mobile and simplicity in your design

Newsletters should not have too many images because there is always the risk of visuals not loading. This is especially important because newsletters tend to be consumed through mobile devices.

Visuals should be chosen carefully to complement the surrounding content, but they shouldn’t act as the content itself. Text should be legible, and the overall layout should be simple enough to work within the constraints of the email format.

According to these principles, Thrillist’s newsletter is arguably a poorly designed newsletter. There’s no content that lives within the email itself, and readers have to click links that take them outside the inbox. Images take up too much real estate, are slow to load, and make the newsletter feel like clickbait.

With a gross open rate of 70 percent, New York Times newsletters are notoriously effective – and this NYT Cooking letter is a great example of how to use images appropriately. The template consists of only two parts: a short essay, which sometimes includes a recipe that lives inside the inbox, and a handful of curated recipes. Images complement the surrounding content but are not necessary to gain value from the newsletter.

What makes a signup page effective?

The first barrier to building a newsletter audience is collecting emails. Below are some best practices for structuring your signup page.

Less is more

Fewer fields lead to higher subscription rates. If you want more demographic information, consider making that an option for the subscriber but not a necessity.

Quartz asks for the subscriber’s demographic information only after the subscriber has provided their email address. Ganapati said there’s a 50 percent drop off from people who sign up for the newsletter to readers who continue to put in their demographic information. While that loss is substantial, it’s still better than losing potential subscribers by overwhelming them with too many form fields. Getting the email address is the first priority.

Offer content previews

Newsletters are about cultivating a specific audience and building a special relationship. You don’t necessarily want everyone to sign up for it. Offering a sample newsletter on a landing page could be a potential way to entice more subscribers and screen out people that wouldn’t be interested in subscribing.

The New York Times provides a sample for almost every newsletter they have, which gives the subscriber a preview of what they’re getting into. You could also provide a link to an archive.

Keep the readers’ needs in mind

The key to writing and designing for newsletters is to prioritize the needs of the reader. Focusing solely on circulating your branded content will only make your newsletter seem like clickbait. The best newsletters use curated content to create a specific user experience that aligns with the brand.

Designing with these principles will ensure that your newsletter breaks through the noise and engages and builds your audience.