This is What a Group’s Newsletter Should Look Like

A year ago, the Metroplex Atheists in Texas sent their members a quarterly newsletter that looked like this:

Not long after that, they enlisted the help of the professional designers at Juicy Creative. They just released their latest newsletter (PDF) and you can see what a difference a redesign makes:

Looks pretty damn nice. (You can see some of the other redesigned newsletters on their website.)

That’s something I would link to on my Facebook page or drop off at local businesses for strangers to see. It’s something to be proud of. If you run a larger local group, this is an option you should consider — the payoff could be well worth it.

(Does this nullify my previous argument that atheist billboards don’t need professional designers? No. The billboards are about obtaining publicity and they do the job no matter what they look like — the message is all that matters. This newsletter isn’t designed to capture the attention of the local news broadcasts. It’s to inform current and prospective members about the group’s events, so the nice design helps tremendously.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    Hemant is lecturing us on design?

    that’s like a catholic priest lecturing on child abuse.

    /scampers away naughtily

    • Word Art Rulz

      Actually it’s not, Catholic priests are experts on child abuse. Hemant knows nothing about design.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

        lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

    Wow! It’s beautiful! I wish there was an organization like that around here (rural Utah). I really want to be an official “godless heathen”!

  • http://twitter.com/PythaCrank PythagoreanCrank

    Again, if the message matters then design is even that much more important. It’s not about being pretty. It’s about effectively communicating a message.

  • Donalbain

    How? If they are already interested enough to read the newsletter, why does design matter?

    • Pseudonym

      This. Hemant has it precisely backwards.

      Image is more important when you’re addressing people who don’t already know you. You can be more relaxed around your friends than you can be around strangers.

      • Patrick

        It’s mildly amusing how Hemant still writes so authoritively on a subject he clearly knows nothing about.

  • Joe Zamecki

    So what was wrong with the original design? It certainly contained more information. When we say “newsletter,” we don’t usually mean “magazine” or “glossy colorful splash.” Information is the real substance in a newsletter. I’d rather see nothing but text, if it means getting more information. Photos we can see anytime at Google dot com. Of course, it’s also nice to step up in the world in other areas. But substance always beats style, in an actual newsletter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502371794 Julio Rosario

      Actually Joe it’s kinda skimpy on content mainly because it was a slow 3 months. However if you read previous newsletters they’re contain more info. Just depends on what’s going on in the previous quarter.

      • amycas

        Hi Julio!!

        Ahem*

        Yes, Julio is correct. The new newsletter design is awesome and there is usually more content. Back a few months ago there were tons of things going on (Pride parades, trips to conventions, Solstice parties, etc.)

  • Elena

    (Does this nullify my previous argument that atheist billboards don’t need professional designers? No. The billboards are about obtaining publicity and they do the job no matter what they look like — the message is all that matters. This newsletter isn’t designed to capture the attention of the local news broadcasts. It’s to inform current and prospective members about the group’s events, so the nice design helps tremendously.)

    Dude. LET IT GO.

  • Drew M.

    I hope they didn’t pay for that…

    • Julio Rosario

      Nope they didn’t =)

  • Michael

    I much prefer the original design. I like my newsletters to look like my books – huge slabs of text and not much else.

  • Chris Bryant

    Wow, so many people here have no sense of aesthetic whatsoever.

    Also, in effective communication, presentation is everything.

    • MV

      You need to realize that your sense of aesthetic is yours alone. I have a different one.

      I want information in a newsletter. Not fluff. Hence the compound name. And there is a lot of fluff in the “improved” newsletter. Sure, it is probably better to hand out to potential members than the original but is a newsletter how you want to introduce your group? Use the proper medium for the message.

      The “new and improved” newsletter is an example of they type that I spend a few seconds looking at then deleting. But that is just me. You might as well just put a few links to the web site.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502371794 Julio Rosario

        Seems like if your gonna get the information either way but one format is business professional and the other written on crayon. Which one would the audience prefer to take as more serious?

  • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

    This is a nice design, I wouldn’t mind it on a website front page.

    Here’s the thing. The image honeycomb is where I would expect to find my content. If I am subscribed to a newsletter, I want access to the information in an easy-to-access way. All this does is make me scroll and click more times until I get to the information I want. If this was the only option I had it would eventually turn me off this newsletter. I can see that the original NL could use some sprucing up, but this seems to have been inverted to all image/no content.

    This is not to say it would not attract others. I am not everybody. I would strongly however suggest that whoever is doing this type of design also have a barebone text-only version for those of us not interested in pretty pictures all the time.

    • raerants

      I think the newsletter is physical.

  • http://twitter.com/tankgrrl Maggie McFee

    “That’s something I would link to on my Facebook page or drop off at local businesses for strangers to see.” Therefore the other, less professional, kind is not.

    A – Designers make newsletters intended to engage existing atheists look good and lend professionalism, polish and credibility

    B – Billboards intended to engage the entire public still don’t need designers because all that matter is ‘the message’

    How is this not a prime example of Cognitive dissonance? I agree with Elena. Let it go.

  • Patrick Sharp

    ugh, they paid for that? Awful and distracting for no good reason.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502371794 Julio Rosario

      The members that run it also run a profession advertising business. So we got the newsletter design for free.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I just read a very good post by Tracie Harris on the Atheist Experience blog, which looks like shit.


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