13 Email Signup Forms, From Infuriating to Great

Your brand has all kinds of tiny UX touchpoints on your site. One of those is your newsletter signup.

Some people use a signup field with all the personality and lead-gen potential of a dessicated mouse corpse. This tells me that (a) they don't want anyone to subscribe to their newsletter, (b) their brand is as boring as The English Patient, and (c) they don't think the small things matter.

Here's a list of email signup forms, from unfathomably lame to actually good.

1) This form makes me wonder why they bother at all:

There's nothing about the newsletter, what you'll be getting, how often you'll get it, or what you'll get out of it. Why don't they just add a middle finger?

2) Email updates?! Awesome!

They're bludgeoning me with "Sign Up" twice. That they think they need a copyright notice under that form makes me laugh, and the social buttons don't belong there.

3) WTF

4) This one has a modern, clean look. (So clean you might not be able to even see it.) But what am I going to get? An email every few months with injury care tips for roller derby teams? An email every few hours giving me detailed updates on a family of raccoons? Contextually, you can assume they're updates, but give us something.

5) This one makes me want to throw hammers. "Not Convinced?" No, not quite:

Excuse me while I go use my rubber mallet on a cardboard box.

6) At least this one has an image...and some modicum of enthusiasm ("Sign me up!" is better than "Sign Up")...but it has "subscribe" twice. Please stop. And exactly how many newsletters am I getting? Boo.

7) This one's an improvement. It's got a little social proof near the button, but it doesn't need that bit about the plans. And "Sign Up" isn't lighting the world on fire.

8) Wow, updates straight to my INBOX? What a world! Has that ever been done before?

Pluses: Cute little image. Orange button (that has tiny text and the dreaded "sign up here"). We've got "Sign up" twice. I'm digging furrows into my desk.

9) On this one, the color should be reversed, with a pink button rather than a pink background. But at least it's an eye-catching color box. The button text is blah, but at least they add "now," and you have some idea of what you'll get (Every week? Every day? Who knows?).

10) Shop Smart. Shop S-Mart.

Some improvement here. A headline that's something other than "Sign up for our newsletter," and you know what you're getting (just not how often). The button is about as interesting as Meet Joe Black, but at least the text is noticeable.

11) I'm starting to calm down a little. This form tells you often they'll email you, and it has a whimsical way of describing what you'll get. Join Us, gabba gabba. We still have "Subscribe Now" and "Sign up," but the form has some personality.

12) This one has a solid headline, some specifics on what you'll get from subscribing, and a high-contrast button. It's good to see text like "I Want Free Tips," but it's better suited to a content offer where you actually get tips for something, so it seems like you're getting something other than what's described. How about "I Want to take Charge"?

Speaking of the word "charge," there's a nice anxiety-reducer under the form, but they can get rid of the unecessary "no charge." It's not a mastermind group, it's a newsletter.

And for this kind of thing, you'd also want to get a subscriber's first name. If it's an "email club," first names should be involved. Or do they use numbers?

13) Hello. Sharp look, clear benefit—and punchy copy with personality, including those fun hashtag buttons. The buttons have different looks, and there's much more emphasis on the desired action. Yay!

(I'd hyphenate "next-level")

Am I guilty of being too lax with my own email forms? Probably. But let's recap: Put some thought and personality into the details. Also, "Subscribe" and "Sign Up" are the lead-gen form versions of this thing (only not memorable at all): 

Strategy, Precision, and Brute Force

by Nina Post

There are a few different ways you can take down a big tree like a Douglas Fir, Big-Leaf Maple, or Hemlock.

You can cut a notch in the side where you want the tree to fall, then go to the other side, chainsaw some space, insert some plastic wedges, and hammer them in. Hammer the wedges for a bit, and the tree might fall then.

If the tree is more stubborn and has some back lean, you may have to use all the wedges in your wedge bag, and hammer them for a long time.

If the tree is really stubborn, like a dense and strong Doug Fir that just doesn't want to move, and hammering those wedges isn't getting anywhere, it would be helpful to get a Bobcat or other heavy machinery to give it a push.

If you only have a narrow space where you can drop the tree, because there are other trees in the path -- and the tree has back lean (so it wants to fall a different way) -- you may need to use a chain and ratcheting method along with the notch and wedges to guide its path.

Even if you've perfected a technique for doing something, it may not cover 100% of the cases. Sometimes you need strategy, precision, and brute force (more people, new partnerships, different staff, etc) to get the job done.

Responsiveness is Undervalued

by Nina Post

It seems like most companies spend all their time trying to find people who have the right combination of education, prior work experience, etc. They may mention something about looking for people who possess "strong attention to detail" and a "self-driven sense of urgency," but the attribute that's most often left out is responsiveness.

Responsiveness should be considered as valuable as everything else, but it's well under the radar. The nature of most work requires communication with both internal and outside parties, and keeping that communication going can make the difference between a project that's on-time and meets expectations, versus one that's plagued with delays and functional issues.

When it comes to getting complex work done and working effectively as part of a team, responsiveness is so valuable that it's arguably a better predictor of job effectiveness than nearly anything else.

How can we be more responsive? Here are a few tactics that anyone can implement right away:

  • If you're waiting to get the answer from someone else, or you don't know the answer, just say so. It's that simple (but incredibly rare).
  • If someone asks you to do something and you can't get to it right away, it's still helpful to tell the person who sent the request, "Got it - I'll let you know when I can work on this." Take a second to acknowledge that you received the email so the sender isn't left in the position of wondering if you did.
  • Don't run your inbox on a FIFO basis. Have enough flexibility and awareness that you don't blindly go through all of your emails in order. Say that someone sends you an email, you reply to them a few hours later, and then they reply to you right after that.

    Do you wait until you've made your way through all your other emails before looking at their latest reply, or do you pick up the thread and finish the conversation right then and there? The second approach is the more responsive one, and also has the benefit of reducing the time you spend switching from one task to another.

What Frigate Birds Can Teach Us About Work and Endurance

by Nina Post

Frigate birds are known for their endurance. They can fly for weeks, even months, without stopping.

According to Henri Weimerskirch, an ornithologist who spent years tracking a group of them, frigate birds can fly for such long periods because they take advantage of favorable winds and strong convection, and rely on thermals and wind to fly at very low energy costs.

They soar inside cumulus clouds, using their strong updraft (even though it's freezing).

If what you're doing requires feats of endurance, are there ways you could make it easier for yourself? Have enough reserves so you can run things on the back-burner for a while if you need to. Keep your operating costs low and be as efficient as you can until you have the resources to scale.

You can't do this without taking care of yourself. Getting enough sleep and exercise will make you capable of sustaining the frigate-like endurance you need.

Movie Recommendations For a Long Weekend

It's Memorial Day weekend, and aside from paying our respects to those who lost their lives in the service of our country, we could probably fit in a couple of movies. These aren't thematic for the holiday and most aren't on Netflix streaming; forgive me.

When you need to get creatively inspired by real people:

Abstract: The Art of Design - particularly the architecture and graphic design episodes [Netflix streaming]

Lambert & Stamp

Beauty is Embarrassing

When you want to get in a better mood and watch something British:

Sing Street [Netflix streaming]

Love & Friendship

The Trip [Netflix streaming]

The IT Crowd Manual [Netflix streaming]

Sexy Beast

Withnail & I


When you want to get in a better mood (and don't even care if the thing you watch is British or not!):

The Station Agent

Soul Kitchen

What We Do in the Shadows


Good Bye Lenin!

Chunking Express

The Dinner Game

Galaxy Quest

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

World of Tomorrow [Netflix streaming]

When you're in a knock-hats-off kind of mood and are fine with staying that way:

With a Friend Like Harry

Blow Out

The Guest

One Hour Photo

Roger Dodger

Nightcrawler[Netflix streaming]

Spotlight [Netflix streaming]

The Invitation [Netflix streaming]

The Big Short [Netflix streaming]

When you want to watch something about crime but also want to be in a pretty good mood:

The Matador

You Kill Me

Sexy Beast

Lucky Number Slevin [Netflix streaming]

I hope you find something you like, British or not, and that you find some to add to your list for another weekend! 🎥