What Newsletters Should Designers And Developers Be Subscribing To?Ricky Onsman
We put out the call on Twitter and Facebook: “What email newsletters are you following these days?” The task of compiling your (many, many) responses has fallen to me.
I should disclose that I have a vested interest in that I currently edit a bi-weekly email newsletter for a conference organizer, UX Australia. In fact, over the years, I’ve edited dozens of email newsletters — some more successful than others.
Anyway, for the purpose of this article, we need to make a few things clear.
First, the newsletters that were most namechecked are included here in their own section: “The Favorites.” The eight that made this list comprise a formidable toolkit of newsletters for any web designer or front-end developer.
Second, I found that there are several types of newsletters which I tried to include representatively:
- Aggregated links
- Company/product/service/event promotions
- Broad industry news
- Specific tech news
- Combination of any of the above
Third, there is a lot of overlap in linked content from one newsletter to the next. That’s to be expected when everyone wants to break news and aggregate link-worthy articles.
Fourth, I focused on great newsletter content. It could be presented as sophisticated HTML with videos and infographics, or it could be no nonsense plain text with minimal descriptions, as long as the content — including how reliable any links are — is good.
Lastly, I tried to keep the focus to only actual newsletters that arrive in your email inbox, and that focus on what web designers and developers do. That’s not to deny the value of newsletters that give designers and devs a broader context for their work; I just had to draw the line somewhere.
I also excluded newsletters that claim to be bi-weekly but have produced just four issues in the last nine months (even if those four issues were very good) and “occasional updates.”
So, let’s see what we have. Buckle up.
- The Favorites
- Emerging Technology
- User Experience
- Web Design
- Web & Tech
Well, of course a lot of people mentioned our own newsletter, and we’re proud and grateful for our readers’ loyalty. I’ll also point out that ours is a rare example of all of the types of newsletter mentioned above, and one with a strong, clear voice. Just sayin’. Twice a month.
CSS Layout News
A high-quality weekly collection of tutorials, news and information on all things CSS Layout, edited by Rachel Andrew, editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine, web developer, writer, speaker, author of The New CSS Layout, co-founder of Perch CMS. Weekly.
It used to be primarily about CSS, but over the years CSS-Tricks has become about all things web design and development, and very popular it is, too. The newsletter is a great way to keep up, as Chris Coyier and his team regularly pull out new insights and clever styling techniques. Weekly.
Front-end dev Zoran Jambor’s hand-picked selection of CSS new, views, tips and techniques from a very wide range of sources, on everything from Unicode patterns to accessibility to security and query feature management. Weekly.
Mozilla Designer and Developer Advocate Jen Simmons knows a lot about CSS Grid and, lucky for us, she’s happy to share. The chief purpose of the newsletter is to let subscribers know about new videos available on the YouTube channel of the same name, but the editorial comments are great value in themselves. Monthly.
Web Development Reading List
Anselm Hannemann, front-end developer and founder of Colloq, compiles a mix of dev & design news, commentary, techniques, tools and broader work/life matters every week. There’s usually a short but pithy editorial, and then up to a dozen links with a paragraph about why it might be interesting to you. He also contributes monthly WDRL issues on Smashing Magazine. Highly readable.
UX Design Weekly
A hand-picked list of the best user experience design links, curated by Kenny Chen. A clearly defined balance of articles, tools & resources, media, portfolios and news — all focused on UX design. Has the twin virtues of feeling hand-picked and providing a great range of topics. Weekly.
From the Cooperpress family of publications, this is one of their strongest newsletters, a well chosen round-up of JS news and articles. The first set of article links get a brief and relevant paragraph description, while the rest are divided into Jobs, Tutorials, Opinions, Videos, Code and Tools with one line descriptions. Comprehensive and readable. Weekly.
David A. Kennedy wrangles WordPress themes for Automattic, is an accessibility evangelist, and compiles this very useful dose of links to web accessibility news, resources, tools and tutorials. Weekly.
WebAIM has become a major and reliable resource for guidance and discussion relating to web accessibility. The newsletter includes featured articles, technical tips, resources, and questions from WebAIM’s discussion forum. The featured articles are both from WebAIM staff and key web accessibility figures around the world. Monthly.
UI Animation Newsletter
Keep up to date on the best web animation, motion design, and UX resources on the web. Subscribe for a weekly collection of curated tutorials and articles — plus advice on how to make web animation work for you. Written and curated by designer, interface animation consultant, speaker and author Val Head. Weekly.
Animation at Work
A hand-picked selection of articles, videos, book reviews, and other goodies pertaining to the wonderful worlds of web animation and motion design (which until last month was called “Web Animation Weekly”). It’s Rachel Nabors’ project, but the hands doing the picking belong to a range of guest editors who can be nominated by readers. Monthly.
Really Good Emails
RGE aims to be “the best showcase of email design and resources on the web”. A 3,300 strong gallery of examples, excellent articles, and links to a lot of resources suggest they really might be “the epicenter of the email earthquake, but in a good and happy-shakey kind of way.” You’d expect this lot to have a good newsletter, and they do. Monthly.
Email design and strategy studio Action Rocket’s very useful collection of links to articles on design, HTML and creative concepts for email drawn from their own work and other pros in the field. Weekly.
Edited by Patrick Catanzariti, this is very well organized and aims to keep web developers inspired and in the know, with links to the latest in VR, AR, wearables, the Internet of Things, AI, robotics and all sorts of other new and emerging tech. Weekly.
This is a nice, simple format that works very well. CSS developer Scott Vandehey tweets a daily link to an interesting front-end article. At the end of the working week, these links are packed with a short description into an email. The selection is a thoughtful mix, so it feels less like a bunch of random links and more like a summary of key stories. Weekly.
Web Design Weekly
A newsletter and blog by Jake Bresnehan, that will help you to stay on top of all things web design and front end development. Links to tips & tricks, in depth articles, interviews, tools & resources, jobs and the occasional quirky story. Weekly.
Web Tools Weekly
A front-end development and web design newsletter with a focus on tools, curated by Louis Lazaris. Each issue features a brief tip or tutorial, followed by a round-up of apps, scripts, plugins, and other resources to help front-end developers solve problems and be more productive. Weekly.
Front End Front
Adventures in Typography
A love letter to the written word, by Robin Rendle. Topics include “calligraphy, lettering, display type, micro type, books about fonts, type specimens, neon lights, posters, morse code, stamps, literature, web design, and books about seeds”. The format is that of a proper letter written by Robin to you which is rather lovely when it’s from someone so passionate. Weekly.
Curated by Noemi Stauffer and featuring the latest free and open-source fonts, the most solid new typefaces by indie foundries and discount codes, this is a concise and well-compiled exploration of (mostly) newly released fonts and how you can get them. Twice a month.
Coffee Table Typography
A love for words, letters, language, and coffee. This digest of resources, articles and knowledge of typography — in design, on the web, or books — is curated by Ricardo Magalhães. More than just a set of links, Ricardo digs into the articles he’s linking to, whether it’s a new font release or a deeper look into the role of typography on the web. Once or twice a month.
Founded by Fabricio Teixeira and Caio Braga, this has become a bit of a UX behemoth, publishing a high volume of original articles and aggregated material on a range of UX and design related topics. Impressive output in terms of both quantity and quality. The newsletter reflects that. Weekly.
Designer and developer Ste Grainer founded this “love letter to user experience design, front-end development, building products, and making the world a better place.” His newsletter collects links to the latest UX articles and resources, as well reminders of older, good resource links. Monthly.
User Interface Engineering
Jared Spool has a hard-won global reputation as a consultant, trainer, speaker and writer on usability, UI and UX. It’s not surprising, then, that he realizes the great value of older content. The UIE newsletter is as likely to link to an article from five years ago as yesterday, if it’s still relevant — and, with user-centric topics, that’s often the case. Smart and useful. Weekly.
By and for the user experience community, founded by Matthew Kammerer, David Leggett and Andrew Maier, for a readership mostly of beginning-to-intermediate user experience and interaction designers. The newsletter highlights one new inhouse article a week, plus links to three or four external UX articles and the occasional (often remote) job listing. Concise, focused, digestible and reliable. Weekly.
Founded by Pabini Gabriel-Petit in 2005, this provides insights and inspiration to experienced professionals working in every aspect of UX, as well as beginners. The newsletter focuses tightly on new content on the website, but when you publish up to six articles, interviews, panel discussions, and technical pieces a week, that makes for a good newsletter. Weekly.
An Event Apart Digest
In 1997, Jeffrey Zeldman and Brian M Platz started a mailing list called A List Apart. It evolved into one of the world’s leading magazine sites “for people who make websites” and spawned the An Event Apart conference series and book publisher A Book Apart. The Digest wraps all of this activity up and adds links to other interesting articles, videos and resources. Monthly.
Web Designer News
Built “to provide web designers and developers with a single location to discover the latest and most significant stories on the Web.” Content includes “quality news, fresh tools and apps, case studies, code demos, inspiration posts, videos and more”. It is extremely comprehensive, and posts links every couple of hours. There is a user voting system, and the most shared items are featured in the newsletter. Daily.
In 10 years, WDD has grown from a blog into a genuine online magazine for web designers — and developers, content authors, specialist and generalists. Drawing on a stable of inhouse writers and external contributors, including some high-profile industry type. The newsletter highlights 10 or so items ranging across news, product info, design, code and WDD’s monthly round-up. Weekly.
Since 2012, Sidebar has been collecting links about UI design, typography, CSS, user research, and all other facets of design. It’s now a trusted resource for thousands of designers across the world to stay on top of the latest news, trends, and resources. Each newsletter can include from three to a dozen links. Daily.
The website was launched in 2007 as an inspirational hub for web designers. As web design trends became more advanced and more tools became available it evolved into a web design magazine. Articles are usually published daily, which makes for a satisfyingly full email newsletter. Weekly.
Responsive Design Weekly
Web developer Justin Avery’s side project ResponsiveDesign.is has become a go-to site dedicated to providing beginners and advanced users tips, tricks, inspiration and resources for responsive design projects. The newsletter is equally popular and a very convenient way to keep with responsive design news. Weekly.
The Web Designer Newsletter
A heady mix of image-heavy product placement, sponsored items, free resources and links to articles, this newsletter regularly comes up with links to articles I don’t see elsewhere. I don’t know who is behind it (the very brief website just says “curated by designers for designers”), but it’s hard to ignore. Weekly.
A curated publication full of interesting, relevant links. I would call this an example of an educated, focused and informed newsletter of links to web resources that genuinely advance thinking on design systems. Providing just an article title and link makes it feel robotic and impersonal, but maybe that’s an approach you’ll like. Weekly (more or less).
Web Field Manual
A curated list of resources focused on documenting knowledge for designing experiences and interfaces on the web. It is an ever-expanding collection of knowledge and inspiration for web designers, by web designers — namely Jon Yablonski, Garrett Wieronski, and Geoff Tice. The Dispatch keeps you up to date. Weekly.
Web Design Update
This is an oldie but a goodie, a plain text email digest disseminating news and information about web design and development with an emphasis on user experience, accessibility, and web standards. Around since 2002 (with a name change), it’s linked to the university-based Web Design Reference archive, and it is still edited by Laura Carlson. Weekly.
Web & Tech
SitePoint is a publisher of books, articles, videos and community forums on all aspects of web design and development. It produces several weekly newsletters, but this is the cream of the crop, curated by Adam Roberts. Short, sharp, timely, useful and often linking to items of industry interest that others miss. Daily.
David Tintner and Sagi Shrieber’s favorite articles about design, front-end development, technology, startups, productivity and the occasional inspirational life lesson. They pack in a lot of links, which might be why they list only the article title linked to the source. With such a broad remit, there is a lot of overlap with other newsletters, but it’s all in one package. Weekly.
This side project of MailChimp’s Kale Davis links to stories on tech startups, programming developments and other stories featured on Hacker News. That means this is another list of links, with not much to say where you should direct your attention. Still, those links are pretty good. Weekly.
Pony Foo Weekly
A newsletter about the open web, highlighting the most important news about the web every Thursday. Founded by developer, author and speaker Nicolás Bevacqua, and now with a team of contributing authors, it also has lots of links to current articles about the web and tech. Weekly.
Offscreen is a print magazine that focuses on people working on the web and with technology in general, edited and published by Kai Brach, a former web designer. Dispatch is Kai’s email newsletter offshoot in which he highlights products, news, events and insights for the discerning web worker. Classy and well selected. Weekly.
The History of the Web
Jay Hoffmann had the bright idea of collecting the moments and stories that make up web history to create an online timeline. Out of that came an email newsletter pointing to one or more of these stories. Highly readable, very informative, and often surprising. Weekly.
Alex and Ben produce this newsletter for WordPress professionals, with editorial and links to apps, tools and resources. It’s not all about WordPress, though — it’s what WordPress pros need to know, so there’s general small business, lifestyle and industry articles as well as WP-specific items, including technical pieces. Weekly.
Curated by Cristian Antohe and Bianca Petroiu, this one carries more links to WordPress theme and plugin releases and reviews, tutorials, podcasts and videos — as well as more business, freelance and industry news and articles of interest to WordPress professionals and enthusiastic amateurs. Weekly.
While I was compiling this article, I realized I have my own go-to set of people whose email newsletters I really look forward to. It’s not because they’re necessarily “the best” — it’s more that their choices of content, tone and focus strike a strong chord with me.
I’m sure you have your own, but here — apart from those who come up in the preceding sections — are the individuals whose newsletters I look forward to landing in my inbox.
- Frank Chimero (design)
- Sarah Doody (UX)
- Benedict Evans (web & tech)
- Scott Hanselman (web & tech)
- Gerry McGovern (UX)
- Mike Monteiro (design & ethics)
- Leisa Reichelt (UX research)
And that completes our latest round-up of email newsletters for web designers and developers.
Did I say “completes”? Of course, this list is not complete! For one thing, it probably doesn’t have your favorites. Add them — preferably with a working link — in the comments below.