One electronic newsletter element that many designers have to consider, sooner or later, is the border. Should an email newsletter have a border around it or not? Many times it depends on the other parts of the newsletter: the masthead, the presence of images, and text. What if the newsletter has no images at all, just several small sections of text with accompanying links? Is the masthead a simple white banner with no color in it except a black font? Or is the masthead and footer bold enough in a single color such as red or blue so that no border, or a bare suggestion of a border, is needed?
Think of the masthead as being the start of the newsletter. Yes, it is at the very top, to be sure. Placing yourself in the shoes of the subscriber, ask yourself if the masthead needs any framing below it to make the rest of the newsletter appear restricted to its area. This VXI newsletter is an excellent example of having clearly defined sections of the email without having, or needing, a border around it. The teal banner with rounded edges more or less defines the newsletter “outline” above the fold. As with most newsletters, there are two columns, with the right one containing images to further define the restricted area of the email.
This newsletter design is up to date, compared to the look several years ago, back in 2011, when it was fashionable to have wider borders on newsletters. This EE newsletter is an example of one, with a contrasting color as the background. The bold color contrast is there, no doubt, whereas up-to-date newsletters tend to make use of more white space.
A newsletter that has no borders, but a banner or header – and footer – that spans the entire width of an email client such as Outlook 2007 or 2010 while the center portion is smack dab in the middle is not the best designed newsletter. For example, this Infogroup newsletter regarding a white paper titled “Creating a Strong Multichannel Strategy” fits this description. It’s certainly not the content that is lacking; rather, the problem is the lack of a defined table. While it is true that electronic newsletters are not meant to appear identical to print newsletters, they should have some kind of defined “outline”, even if there is no visible border, as in the VXI newsletter. In the Infogroup case, there is also an issue with blank spaces appearing horizontally across the newsletter in Gmail.
If you do decide to use a border to outline your newsletter, select a shade from light to dark gray, or black. How thick should the border be? On newsletters in 2014, either 1 or 2 pixels thick. If the entire background of the newsletter is white – as is the masthead – try using black instead of gray as the border color. As usual, give your newsletter borders the acid test to make sure they will appear as desired across the different email clients.