The Importance of Optimizing Email for Accessibility


For designers, there are many things to remember when creating an email. Often the forgotten question is, sadly, “Is this accessible for all my subscribers?”

That question is just as important as the rest: How will it display on mobile? Does it appeal to my target market? Will this work in all inboxes? Will it work for every subscriber?

For starters, let’s talk about what accessibility is (just in case you’re a little fuzzy). Accessibility is optimizing your designs for people with disabilities to ensure they can understand, navigate, and interact in a similar manner to a fully-abled individual. These disabilities would include blindness, poor eyesight, color blindness, dyslexia, mental disabilities, and physical disabilities.

In fact, my inspiration for this article was my extremely color blind husband. He was trying to play a video game called “Red Dead Redemption” one evening. The small map in the corner of the screen showed a red line to follow to the destination on top of a tan background. I could see everything clear as day, but he couldn't.  I spent the evening watching that little map and saying “Ok, go straight. Turn left. There’s another turn coming up. Wait, no! Not that left. The other left.” He couldn’t even tell the map had changed.

It's for people like my husband that email designers should be keeping accessibility in mind during the design process. Over 18% of Americans have a disability and over 8 million Americans have vision impairment (including poor eyesight, blindness, or color blindness). So, the next big question: Are you ready to optimize your emails for them?

While it may not be possible to completely replicate the normal email experience for all recipients, we can all try our best to get as close as possible! Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Contrast is your friend

To help those with poor eyesight and color blindness, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
  1. Color combinations 
  2. Contrast 
Those with color blindness have difficulty seeing certain color combinations, the most common being green and red. Avoiding those color combinations that would make it difficult for them to read is extremely important in design.

When designing, also keep contrast in mind. Check out the contrast between letters and their background color or image and ask yourself, “Is this easy to read? Is there any way I can make this better?” If you are struggling to read something, imagine someone with poor eyesight trying to read it!

If you are curious on how your images look to varying types of colorblindness, there are free simulators online. For the following example, I used Coblis.

Here, I created a simple text link in a nice rich red tone. When reading through, the obvious difference helps the viewer to realize it is clickable.


However, running this text through a colorblindness simulator tells a much different story. If I had Monochromacy, this is what I would see:
 

Sometimes to stay on brand, you can’t just change color palettes. A simple solution to this example would be to underline the link text as a clear indicator that the words “privacy policy” are a link.



Easy to skim, easy to scan

I’m sure you’ve heard of Agatha Christie, the best-selling novelist of all time. But did you know she was actually dyslexic? Dyslexia is the difficulty interpreting written words, letters or symbols, often resulting in the confusion or transposition of letters or words while reading.

To help those recipients with dyslexia, make sure you maintain a logical order of elements in your layout. Elements should be arranged to be viewed left-to-right and top-to-bottom. Make sure the layout also makes sense in the mobile version too! A clear hierarchy with help the user navigate through the content with ease.

Large amounts of text may also be daunting to those subscribers with dyslexia or difficulty reading. When designing, there are small things you can do to make large sections of text easier to read for everyone:
  • Make your fonts at least 14px with adequate line height. Very small fonts will be difficult to read for people with poor eyesight. 
  • Choose a simple serif or sans-serif font for your paragraphs. Verdana and Georgia were developed specifically for on-screen readability, but there are many web fonts that offer great readability without sacrificing style or branding. Be sure to choose a typeface with well-spaced letters and clear letterforms. 
  • Large paragraphs of text should be left aligned. Center aligning makes the copy more difficult to read, skim, and comprehend. Your paragraphs should flow naturally for the eye. 

Be smart with your animations

Gifs are a fun addition to your designs that can make an otherwise static image come alive. However, when creating or using gifs in your message, keep those who experience photo-sensitive seizures in mind. Avoid flashing content such as animated gifs with fast or harsh transitions. Keep important text out of those animations as well, so the viewers can easily comprehend and understand the content of the message.

Screen Readers

For those with the inability to read a screen, screen readers are their best friend. These tools will read HTML text and alt tags aloud for a user, allowing them to navigate an email more easily. These recipients cannot skip through content the same way a traditional user skims, so balancing your text and images will create a good experience for them.

Screen readers highlight the importance of including alt text on all images containing text, as well as the need to use live HTML text for vital information in the message. It’s also important to use meta tags to determine the character set to avoid any confusion or incorrect characters. Within the <head> tag of your email, simply place the following meta tag:

<meta charset="utf-8">

Additionally, most emails are built with nested tables. Screen readers will read each table, column, and row. By adding role=”presentation” to the table tag, the screen reader knows to only read the contents, not the containers.

Your subscribers are extremely important to your brand (and your sales numbers!). Just a few small changes can improve your email experience for all your subscribers, helping increase overall user happiness and brand loyalty.

Which of these accessibility tips will you start using in your designs? Let us know in the comments!



Melissa Lobach
Graphic Designer

Choosing the Best Pop-Up Design for Your Goals



If you’re ready to grow your email list then a pop-up on your website is a must-have. Getting started
designing a pop-up may be a bit daunting, though. There are so many things to cover: Do you include an incentive? What design do you choose?

Allow me to help! I’ve picked out a few pop-up designs that I love and hope that my thoughts will help you choose the best pop-up design for your goals.

Keep it light and airy



This traditional lightbox-style pop-up is very simple and clean while still maintaining the look and feel of the brand. Using CSS transitions, it slides onto the homepage about three seconds after you’ve arrived. Using the angled photo, this pop-up adds visual interest while drawing a literal line down to the widest (and most important) part of the form: the email input box. This subtle but effective direction to the input plus the free shipping note in light blue really makes me want to enter my email and click that “send” button. 

Tip: If your website content is more central to the browser window, this design is a great option for you.



Be big and bold


Another sibling in the pop-up family is the full-screen. In order to really grab your user’s attention, these pop-ups completely hide the website behind them. While designing these, it’s important to maintain the look and feel of your brand just in case your customer forgets what website they’re on (hey, it happens!). This one in particular does this perfectly. The background color is the brand’s gorgeous green, and they even took it a step further and included the logo at the top of the form. This way the user always knows what site they’re on.

Another element I like about this pop-up is the offer used to entice the customer to sign up. Not only is the offer large and distinct in the headline, but it's also reiterated in the call-to-action button. Another bonus element I enjoyed: the pretty cool JavaScript counter directly under the button! I don’t see those too often in pop-ups so that really stood out.

Tip: If your website content is stretched across the whole screen, this design would fit seamlessly.


Try clean and subtle


Here we have the simplest pop-up of the bunch: the banner. These are great because they aren’t in your face or pushy; they’re simply there for you whenever you decide you’d like to subscribe. This means a first-time visitor to your website is given the chance to browse around and then make the decision if your brand interests them to sign up for your newsletters.

These pop-ups don’t usually have imagery and since they’re so small, the copy is kept to a bare minimum. In this example in particular, the black background really made this stand out on an otherwise very colorful website. This example does include a close button, but also adds a clever “don’t miss out!” headline right in front of it to play into all your FOMO fears. 

Tip: Looking for a softer, subtler sell? This pop-up is perfect for you!

Which pop-up design speaks to you? Let us know in the comments!




Elsie Compton
Graphic Designer

Listrak Receives World-Class Net Promoter Score® of 80

According to a 2016 Nielsen study, the vast-majority (more than 80%) of Americans seek recommendations when making a purchase of any kind. What our friends, colleagues and neighbors think truly matters, even when it comes to business decisions.

One standard industry rating, known as the Net Promoter Score® or NPS®, offers an easy way to gauge how your customers truly feel about you. It boils down to one simple question: Would you recommend this product or service to a friend? Listrak recently surveyed clients to see how satisfied they are with Listrak solutions and services and the results were quite revealing.


The results showed that Listrak’s Net Promoter Score came back as an 80 -what NPS considers “world-class.” 
To give you some background, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) ranks a customer’s willingness to recommend a product or service to others on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being extremely likely to recommend and 0 being not likely at all to recommend. Respondents are then divided into three categories: Promoters (9 or 10); Passive (7 or 8); and Detractors (6 and below).



According to product and NPS specialists, Net Promoter Score is recognized as a key performance indicator. Any score above 50 is excellent, while anything above 70 is deemed “world class.”

As Customer Marketing Manager with Listrak, my main focus is and always will be customer awareness and satisfaction. How do our customers feel about us? Are they content? Do they know enough about our products? So, when Listrak decided to use this ever-telling question in a recent survey focused on satisfaction, I was ecstatic when more than 31% of our active clients responded. This, compared to the average 10-15% response rate for external surveys according to SurveyGizmo.com.


The satisfaction survey also included an open-ended question asking customers what one thing Listrak could do to improve its Client Services team, followed by sentiment questions asking respondents to rate their Account Manager from 1-10 on qualities that included their responsiveness, product knowledge, knowledge of client business, and overall satisfaction. The average rating for Client Services personnel yielded a 9.4.

“One of our core values at Listrak is Customers come first in everything we do.” says Carly Povilaitis, VP of Client Services. “It’s a commitment that we live by as an organization and is at the foundation of who we are and what we do. Our Client Services team is dedicated to providing top quality service and support to all of our customers. The results from this survey illustrate we are delivering on this promise.”

So, what is to be done with this information? For me, it’s going to be to take a step back, take a deep breath and say, “thank you” to our valuable clients. And, also to take a look at those who didn’t rate us as highly, because they did so for a reason (so I’ve learned) and there’s much room for improvement to be had. A recommendation, to me, is the utmost achievement and in order to continue to receive them you’ve got to always strive to satisfy your clients in new and innovative ways. And most importantly, listen closely to what they’ve got to say.



Lauren Eisenhauer
Customer Marketing Manager