top of page

The House Designers
Newsletter Redesign (2015 - 2019)

While working as editorial manager for The House Designers, I had the chance to refresh their newsletters for a mobile-first audience. The goal was to increase readership, make the newsletter easier to update and keep sponsors and advertisers front and center. 

Software Used:

  • Adobe Photoshop


  • 4 Weeks (with ongoing work throughout the years)


  • The House Designers

  • Sponsors

  • Editorial Team

Newsletter Redesign Main Image.jpg

About the Client:

The House Designer is a house plan provider offering plans from the nation's top architects. They offer pre-drawn house plans to consumers and builders who are looking to build their dream homes. 

The newsletters serve different audiences.

  • Dream Designs is to promote house plans

  • Home Ideas provides home design ideas and focuses on products for your homes.

Problem Statement

In 2015, The House Designers had two newsletters associated with their site that were engaging with their user base around topics centered around building a new home. 

These designs did not respond to the increasing use of mobile devices on a screen and were becoming increasingly harder to manage when it comes to writing copy. Writers were spending too much time trying to get all their blurbs to align as opposed to creating and ideating on new topics.


Dream Designs posed an additional problem because it was operating on a mixture of pre-made callouts that writers couldn't edit, and required the writer to locate two photos that would look in the vertical boxes. 

Original Designs
Wishlist and Goals
Home Ideas - Circa 2013-1.jpg

The header looks dated and needs an update while keeping all the stats.

 Text is too hard to see on blue background. This is an accessibility issue. 

Minimize the amount of text in this section. 

Make advertisers and sponsors more prominent. 

Change the color of this text and/or eliminate the gray boxes

Dream Designs - Circa 2013.jpg

Not legible, needs
to be incorporated another way.

These links aren't legible and the yellow on blue is hard to read.. 

Macaroni color is not attractive. Need something better.

One sponsor at
a time is not effective.

Eliminate vertical image placements

Keep these and make them more prominent.

Wishlist an Goals
Final Designs

My Designs

Over four weeks, I worked iteratively with sales and the executive team to get to the final designs.  Our primary focus was to make it as easy as possible for the customer to access both house plans in The House Designers catalog and drive traffic to the sponsor's website(s). 

Home Ideas Redesign Take 2 Social Media Icons With Caption.jpg

Feedback from sales said customers wanted an easier

way to reference plans they

saw in newsletters. So I added

the name and item number for their reference.

 Prominent placement of relevant sponsors to the article and topic.

Photo credit so that customers could see what they were looking at.

Reduce links at the very top of the page to what's most important to users.

Better integrated social media icons with flat icon designs and quick links grouped together in high-contrast callout. 

Shifted focus to visual, allowing writers to focus on 1 or two sentences of snappy intro. 

We later decided that we didn't like the text going across the top and future main images were designed so that the header and intro text were in a gray box.

Promote newsletter sign-ups and free gift with purchase offer.

We would later add a more visual callout for this offer.

Larger placement of all sponsors. 

Given how sponsors changed over time, I only designed this one in Photoshop. It appeared on all emails that came from this company and I maintained a master to keep up with edits.

Provide contact details up top and include phone number so customers could easily call the sales team. 

Given that a larger rebranding was planned, the placement and style of the logo also factored in because we wanted to make sure it was easily replaceable.

Dream Designs Tweaks.jpg

Remove boxed in text allowing for writers to write what they need.

Focus on quality over quantity of plans featured and make sure the name and item number is called out. 

Decrease the number of header links. Focus on drawing them to new plans and products.

Give the newsletters matching headers so they look like they belong to the same company.

Add a link to the plan collection and call out the house plan being featured.

Note: In later iterations, we would move this to a separate link below the image to help with visibility. 


I recieved a lot of positive feedback on these designs including  writers commenting on how much easier it was to create new newsletters. 

As a result of this efficiency Dream Designs and Home Ideas where able to run consistently on a weekly basis with little maintenance needed to their design and typically a backlog that gave editorial some lead time.  

The templates would also be used in future projects. 

Sponsors were happy with how prominent their products could be featured in these new designs and would collaborate with high resolution imagery to create more sponsored content. 

Looking back at this project in 2022 I realized a few things about this project. 

  1.  The KPIs weren't clearly outlined at the start of this assignment.  Over time, I realized that we should have been focusing on clickthrough rates, but that the standard of operation was not to trust the bespoke backend and assume the rates were higher than they were. 

  2. It took some time during my tenure here to realize that the priorities were not on the user but rather the sponsors who were giving us money for product placement. Everything we did was to keep the sponsors happy instead of focusing on delivering results from users that would make sponsors happy. 

  3. At the time of launch, this newsletter was also undergoing a more robust editorial shift which also meant frequency and content were increased over a period of time. With the limited metrics we had it was hard to attribute whether it was just from being on a more regular schedule or the design. Going forward I would test this with a survey to see what could potentially be improved on either end. 

Designing Builder News (2015)

After continuous and ongoing iteration I was asked to create a new newsletter that would engage an audience of home builders.  Builders are repeat customers who are always in the market for new house plans when they start work on a development and make up approximately 25% of The House Designers' revenue. 

The goal here was to  keep it similar to Dream Designs in terms of feel but focus more on a builder's goals. 

The design is based largely on Dream Designs with a few tweaks for where particular items are featured.

First Design

Base designed to look like Dream Designs 

I was told to make it look "a little different" 

My brain took that as "lets get inspiration from wood" and made everything brown! 

This design didn't allow for sponsor placement.

Builder Newsletter Take 1.jpg

Final Design

Closer to Dream Designs than my first design

Splits callouts to be equal between The House Designers' catalog and applicable sponsors.

Looks cleaner and more modern while still holding all the links we need

Builder Newsletter EDITED 7-31-2015.jpg
Builder News
Responsive Redesign (2019)

Although my designs for the newsletters were successful and we continued to tweak parts of them over the years. The House Designers' needed to  pivot to a more responsive-friendly email format  in 2019.  

My directive was to  rely more on text and less on images  and anything that needed to be created by a graphic designer. So  I created a template that I referred to as component-based. 

The idea here was the the overall design was the same with different fonts and text being used to differentiate which e-mail you were looking at. 

Home Ideas - Circa 2019.jpg

New header with some more design elements using the colors of the logo. 

Contact info moved to the top header so it's the first thing a subscriber sees.

Intro text sits on white background with "Read more" to denote they'll be taken to an article. 

Consistent captions that call out specific products with links to product pages.

Copy like 2015 Home Ideas newsletters, but in a format that allows writers to have fewer constraints regarding length and write what feels natural. 

Callout to "Shop the Collection" denotes a page that takes subscriber to a product page (both internal and external).  The text is also adjustable.

More prominent Home Building Organizer callout. 

Updated sponsor callout with images, and a more updated text. 

Backend customization allowed for colors to be changed to coordinate with featured images.

What I Learned

This was my first experience designing a template for some emails.

Keeping in mind that this was 7 years ago, but it was a product I lived with and iterated over time, it provided a lot of growth opportunities and chances to change and modify the layout as we saw fit. 

It taught me a lot about collaboration, particularly with developers and it became an ongoing part of my practice and work to make sure developers were brought in early to the process. 

It also  taught me a lot about how to frame text and how much flexibility a design should have for potential growth. 

I left my role at The House Designers' in 2019 shortly after designing the responsive newsletters.

However, if I could do it again, I would make sure to incorporate some of the following:

  • Brand Design: The House Designers had a logo but they didn't always follow a component-based design. This was fairly early in my design career so I didn't know how to advocate for that, but I do now.

  • Data-Driven Approach: I would comb through the numbers and previous newsletters and see if I could find places where the editorial strategy was weakest and trying to get verifiable proof that claims were actually going to help. 

  • Evaluating Sponsorship Placement: Looking back here, I think that there was a lot of space given to sponsors that overtook the content. I find that now I am a big proponent of taking a step back and doing quality over quantity with sponsorships. (Note, my work with The House Designers' also went beyond newsletter.)

Responsivec Redesign
What I Learned
bottom of page