Heights Observer's weekly e-mail newsletter gets a new look

The new year brought the introduction of our redesigned e-mail newsletter, the Heights Observer Weekly E-News. It’s only the second time we’ve overhauled its look since the newsletter was launched in 2012.

While the newsletter needed to be refreshed, the real reason we did it was to make it mobile-responsive—easy to read on small screens.

The old format was built on outdated technology, and the readership data reflected that. The rule of thumb about online content today is that you can expect at least half your audience to access it via smart phones and tablets. But the e-news was getting only 30 percent of its readership through mobile devices. With 5,000 opt-in subscribers, that means there are probably another 1,000 people in Cleveland Heights and University Heights who would choose to receive the newsletter if it were made mobile-friendly.

Anybody from the media business who reads this will shake his or her head; changing a newsletter template isn’t that difficult, and we’re a couple years behind in making the change. So I’m not bragging here.

The governing principal in designing for a small screen is that everything needs to be organized for vertical scrolling.

The old newsletter had two side-by-side columns, which works for a desktop computer. It’s arguable whether a two-column format even makes for good reading on a full-size screen, but it’s a definite no-no on a smart phone. The whole thing has to be shrunk so much to fit on the smaller screen that it becomes unreadable.

So the new version has a single column, larger type and simpler graphics, all of which make it easier to read no matter what kind of device one uses.

The newsletter gets sent out every Tuesday afternoon, 50 weeks a year (we skip the weeks around Independence Day and Christmas/New Year’s). It’s free, and contains a combination of information from the current print edition and content being published for the first time.

We don’t have any data on how many people read both the print edition and the e-news. Anecdotally, however, we hear from many people who have a strong preference for one or the other.

Either way is fine with us; they’re different products but closely related. And both share the same mission: To encourage engagement among Heights residents, transparency in local government, and vitality in the local business community that makes Cleveland Heights and University Heights unique and desirable.

If you’re interested in subscribing to the newsletter, here’s the link: bit.ly/HO-enews. If you decide it's not for you, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Bob Rosenbaum

Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chair of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 12:27 PM, 02.01.2020