Help Design The Consumerist Newsletter

We’re going to launch some daily Consumerist email newsletters and would like your feedback on how best to do them. Check out the mockups inside and tell us what you think.

Requests for getting the Consumerist in daily email have pinged our inbox repeatedly over the years, and now, thanks to the benevolence of our owner, Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, we’re finally able to do so.

Like busy busy bees, the Consumers Union marketing and design teams have been working on crafting the newsletter and special announcement project’s form and function. Now it’s time for you to sound off on how best it suits your needs.

* How do you like the categories?
* Would you like to see any added or changed?
* We also want to be able to, infrequently and with thoughtfulness, send you messages separate from the newsletter about other Consumers Union properties, like deals on Consumer Reports subscriptions or Consumers Union advocacy programs in which you might be interested. You could opt-out of these emails at any time and keep your newsletter subscription. Are you cool with that?
* Is the sign-up process clear and effective?





Leave your thoughts in the comments!


Edit Your Comment

  1. smcorr says:

    A newsletter is a great idea, especially if it contains more pictures of the woman using the laptop.

  2. microcars says:

    I don’t care what you put in the newsletter as long as the picture of that woman is in every one of them.
    You could just skip content and just send that picture every day. OK, throw a cat in every once in awhile.

  3. Tim says:

    So you select the categories, and you automatically get daily newsletters with content from those categories? That’s pretty cool.

    It might be nice if you had a mobile-friendly option for the newsletters.

  4. tbax929 says:

    I’m curious to know, would the content in the newsletter vary at all from the content available online?

  5. pop top says:

    I think I’d like to see more flashing .gifs, maybe some flames along the edges, a laughing skull or two. You know, class things up a bit.

    Also, every time I see Latin anymore, I start singing “Tohuvabohu”.

  6. burnedout says:

    I second Tcama’s request for “mobile friendly.” I check in to the site a few times a day and would only rely on a newsletter while traveling – when a mobile version would be the best.

  7. ams199 says:

    Not sure why there is a category called Other in the screen cap of the newsletter signup page. It doesn’t appear in the category choices on the following screen (which it shouldn’t – who would sign up for some Miscellaneous category?).

    How is Top News determined? By number of comments, or just that it was marked in that category by the poster? Maybe add a category for Most Commented Posts?

  8. Pinkbox says:

    Honestly, I probably wouldn’t sign up for the newsletter since I’m already in the habit of visiting this site daily. I would seen redundant, unless there was something different that the newsletter offered that the site does not.

  9. ConsumerPop says:

    I’d rather just check the site if the content is the same. Consumerist gives me something to check at work when it’s slow.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      Ditto, although as someone else said, I’d read a newsletter while traveling and short on time.

  10. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    I know this is sort of outside the realm of newsletter but I find when reading the RSS feeds I end up really missing the snarky comments as I find them often as interesting if not more so than the articles. Maybe you could at least add GitEmSteveDave’s comments in for each article as an appetizer.

  11. BoredOOMM says:

    Set a way to limit the number of links given in each category like iGoogle does.

  12. Bonestorm says:

    Maybe see if the girl with the laptop has some friends. That way you wouldn’t have to worry so much about the content.

  13. Bagumpity says:

    Is this the newsletter you’re going to send out every Christmas to let us know that your youngest is taking tap lessons and the mold problems in your house are pretty much cleared up?

  14. Segador says:

    Crossing my fingers that the real newsletter will also be in Latin.

    Other than that, the forms look great.

  15. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I would like a mobile-friendly version as well. Also, apparently is completely dead since there hasn’t been a new entry in a long, long time. Could Consumerist take that on and do a lolkonsoomerst, or some variation of how kittehs spell it? Seriously, loleconz use to be one of the highlights of my morning routine and now it’s gone. I feel like Consumerist is the perfect outfit to tackle this, given that you guys love cats and mocking people using cats.

  16. Gman says:

    One suggestion I have is the choice to receive either full-text articles or just the synopsis with a link to the page. If I was reading on my phone or at work -I would prefer to not have to click through from my e-mail to a browser for each story.


    How do you like the categories?
    I would like to see a “Morning Deals”/Sales or similar style category.
    Also another thing missing would be a Consumer Reports category -maybe something of the top story of the day form that site?


    Re the CR subscriptions: I would find them no hassle if it was on a very infrequent basis [no more than once a month] or even better – just a banner ad on the newsletter.


    Is the sign-up process clear and effective?

  17. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    If you can customize it to only send certain categories is it possible to allow for the option of leaving out the article images?

  18. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    Wouldn’t this effect already be captured in an RSS feed tailored to the categories you like?

  19. tuhughes says:

    My only suggestion would be to expand the catagories (or add a “Tags” option) that would allow you to select content based on the tags associated with the “More About:” links at the bottom of each post. That would allow people to select content based on the type of story (e.g. Above and Beyond, Bad Customer Service, etc) or the general location (e.g. Boston, New York, etc). The process itself looks perfectly clear, and the layout of the newsletter is fine.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      Yeah, something like a Custom option, where us advanced readers can say that we want all the stories under the “Shuffle Fun Shuffle Shuffle Fun Shuffle Fun Fun Shuffle Fun Fun Shuffle Just Plane Fun” tag.

  20. dblevins says:

    How about making the header smaller? It is much, much too large.

  21. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    > * We also want to be able to, infrequently and with thoughtfulness, send you messages separate from the newsletter about other Consumers Union properties, like deals on Consumer Reports subscriptions or Consumers Union advocacy programs in which you might be interested. You could opt-out of these emails at any time and keep your newsletter subscription. Are you cool with that?

    So you’re going to make that opt-out, even though that’s one of the most annoying things that any company can do? Even ONE email that I didn’t specifically request is too many, even if it contains unsubscribe instructions.

    Reminds me of when I was trying to cancel a subscription to Consumer Reports, but the website said I had to call a toll-free number, and when I called the number, the recording said I could solve many issues using the website. For a consumer oriented organization, CU seems to just not get it sometimes.

    • Shoelace says:

      Totally agree – we should be able to opt IN to the ‘infrequently and with thoughtfulness’ messages vs. having to go through the trouble of opting out. Don’t you guys (Consumerist) know this already?

  22. Blueskylaw says:

    Looks to me like that’s a Russian winter scene outside.

    Why does she have a hand plane sitting on top of her computer anyway?

  23. TheDude06 says:

    not really sure i get this whole idea….. email newsletters are a little bit 1999 arent they? Twitter and RSS fill the void nicely.

    If you were to actually publish a PLAINTEXT newsletter, it might be interesting. but it looks like you are trying to email me a webpage. why? The only device i can read it on, is the same caliber of device that could just go to the actual webpage.

    • zentex says:

      “If you were to actually publish a PLAINTEXT newsletter, it might be interesting. but it looks like you are trying to email me a webpage.”

      Nail on the head. With an RSS feed and a Web site, this whole newsletter seems archaic if you are just going to email everyone who subscribes a webpage.

      There is no mobile friendly site, but google reader is mobile friendly. Make it plaintext and I’ll be in.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      I third making sure that there’s a plain–text option, cause I am a plain-text bastard who rarely reads HTML emails that aren’t sent with plain-text equivalents.

  24. vladthepaler says:

    If the newsletter were text-only and included full text of articles, I’d be interested. News from other properties should be opt-in rather than opt-out… why not just put a checkbox for it on the page where you select which news categories you want?

  25. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    “We will email you updates as new content is posted to the Consumerist site (no more than once a day)”

    That seems contradictory, either it’s as content is posted or it’s once a day. Perhaps something more like “Once a day [at night, in the morning, ???] we’ll send you a newsletter containing the new stories [posted since when?] that match your selections.”

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I’d subscribe if there was something equivalent to an “End of day Round Up,” all of the articles (in my selected categories) that were posted in the previous 24 hours. An email for each new article would be a bit much–that’s what the RSS is for.

  26. crichton007 says:

    If there’s going to be a newsletter I don’t want it. Just put it in the RSS feed and I’ll read it but I don’t need more email cluttering up my inbox. Honestly, I read far more when it shows up in Google Reader than I do email. Too bad clients can’t post items to my RSS feed instead of emailing me.

  27. says:

    In choosing daily Consumerist email newsletter content, is it possible to configure an option based upon keyword(s) search of the subject heading of each story. As you can guess, I would enter ‘Morning Deals’ to receive that specific content each morning-as well as choosing some of the other categories. Of course, someone searching for more ‘visionary booze’ content might be waiting for a while.

  28. parkj238 says:

    I don’t read spam email even from my favorite blogs….. my friends text me or send me short messages on Facebook. I get too much junk in my inbox, I wouldn’t have the patience to read anything in there.

  29. Fred E. says:

    Every newsletter should definitely include a video of Ben Popken acting out a story with hand puppets and different voices, like that abusive orange juice flight attendant scenario!

  30. SecretAgentWoman says:

    I think we should be able to opt-out from the special side deal emails from the get-go and not afterwords.

    • kaceetheconsumer says:

      Agreed. Especially since, in my many-years-long experience being a CR magazine subscriber, it’s actually impossible to get them to stop sending junk mail. I get raffle offers despite paper mail and phone calls asking for them to stop sending those. I get constant “quick, hurry up and renew before your subscription runs out!” mailings all the time despite having a 5-year subscription with more than three years left. I get paper and email spam offering me mags I do not want, like the one with the emoticon in the title.

      CR, for all that the magazine and site itself are awesome, is actually quite bad about junk mail and getting off of the junk list once you’re on it is apparently impossible.

      • zrecs says:

        We’re long-term subscribers to CR and we routinely get “final notice” renewal requests 4-5 months before the sub actually runs out. When we have let our subscription lapse, we get regular requests to return (more than most pubs, although I couldn’t quantify this from memory).

        It would be really nice for CR to address this issue.

  31. HogwartsProfessor says:

    That looks good, but I already peek into the site many times a day. I can’t get my email during the day because it’s blocked so this probably wouldn’t work for me. I guess I’ll pass.

  32. PencilSharp says:

    Looks neat, but with RSS at home and Google Reader anywhere, I’d probably pass.

    Still, Ben & Crew, a few rehashes from Uncle PS:

    1. Opt-out? Aw, come ON, Ben… especially after all the hooting we’ve done at other opt-out sites. Tell the luddites at CU to cut you some slack on this one and let you offer that stuff opt-in.

    2. Text-only, even as an option, would be a big win. That would help the mobile losers… er… users and those with dial-up accounts (they are legion… a shrinking legion, but still a legion).

    3. Checked out some of Mr. Kirian’s other pics of the young lady. If you pass on text-only, either include pics of her or Meghan as often as possible. Just don’t tell TBW…

    4. Finally, why no “Deals of the Day” option that goes out as soon as it posts on the site? Time-sensitive stuff like DotD fairly screams justification for an e-mail newsletter.

    Love the design, BTW. Got to get one of those fedoras… and the cat leash… and some dumb soul to put it on the cat…

  33. Hoss says:

    A choice for “investigative reporting” or something that indicates Consumerist-only content would be helpful

  34. donssword says:

    For each of the “Top News” items you should “right align” the images to allow for text wrap. You could end up with some awkward word wraps if the images align left.

    Looks good.

  35. Buy used! says:

    I hope this doesn’t remove Google Reader capabilities! I’d be willing to give the newsletter a try for a bit, but with the number of great stories that come out every day, I need the material presented in ultra-dense fashion as Reader can.

    With regard to categories, I’d be leery of choosing between, say, “customer service,” “retailers,” and “shopping.” I’d recommend manually categorizing several day’s worth of material and see how happy you are with it. Honestly, I’d be likely to just sign up for everything at first, see how the stories I like are “tagged,” and see what I should subscribe to. Could you design some cool algorithm to let people “favorite” certain stories and tailor future newsletters based on previously “favorited” content?

    While you’re redesigning, please also do something about the excessive white space between comments and allow us to see at least the first line of all replies (think gmail’s interface).

  36. mussems says:

    * I like that you have a good selection of category choices.
    * I don’t notice anything that should be added or edited.
    * I’m cool with the option to receive other messages from Consumer Reports and etc. since you are giving us the choice to opt-out.

    The newsletter and the sign up forms look great.

  37. occumb says:

    I would prefer if the ads were more in the form of sponsored content & links within the categories we’ve chosen to see than banners. You guys usually attract quite relevant advertisers, but I’d like to see more about their product than the 125×125 creative button they’d have to work with.

  38. B1663R says:

    Ben, i’ll email you a safe style, something easy to read at work.

  39. zacox says:

    If the newsletter is anything like the new site and comment system, forget it. Siteloads and comment additions take forever, and the new comment system is flawed. Now to press that submit button and wait 45 seconds before the a page is returned…

  40. H3ion says:

    This looks very good. Presumably it will come in HTML. I’d like to see it available in pdf format. And I’m happy to see you publishing in Latin. Is Consumers Union planning on putting any of their content into the newsletter?

    And will the newsletter have provisions to allow me to subscribe to

  41. Rorrington says:

    What time of day will the newsletter arrive? Near the end of day might be best, as long as I can read everyone’s posted comments. By the 4 o’clock hour, I’m kinda toast and could use a Consumerist “boost.” Just sayin’…..
    And if the woman at the laptop could be your, uhhh, “mascot,” well, BONUS!

  42. greg_atlanta says:

    Just don’t be like the NY Times where stories which fall into multiple sections are repeated two or three times under different headings in their e-mail newsletters (which are free, BTW).

  43. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i also vote for a text only option. i have a crappy phone with limited email/internet. the days that i do use it [infrequently] for having no other internet source, i can’t read consumerist because the phone’s browser isn’t up for it.
    but a plain text email would be very readble that way

    and yeah, silly website, “opt OUT” of extra stuff options are for the companies you showcase here. you should know better

  44. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    I like it. I like it a lot. Add an option for a text-only or otherwise mobile-friendly version, and it’ll be simply fucking beautiful.

  45. holden190 says:

    I like the newsletter format, and the logo.

    Mobile version (Blackberry) would be nice.

    I am not cool at all on pushing CU subscriptions and other special offers. I always delete any I receive.

    All in all, though, it looks great!

    P.S. >> A photo of Meghan in the logo will really please us guys :)