Last week we covered designing your PTA email newsletter for laptops and computers. Today we’ll break down the best way to design for mobile devices and smartphones.

Many parents and teachers are pressed for time and, like many of us, are utilizing their smartphones on the go. If not already, your PTA newsletter must start to adopt a mobile-friendly layout and design to appeal to the increasing amount of mobile users. A mobile layout should be aesthetically pleasing but, more importantly, needs to effectively provide content to subscribers.

1. Strengthen the Subject Line

The word count on headlines crafted for mobile viewing are constructed with less words, specifically for the purposes of faster consumption. Often, they come out to less than five words but still convey an accurate sense of what the content is about without compromising accountability.

Keep in mind that with the confined parameters given in mobile emails, you have that much less of an opportunity to use wordplay as a way to seduce readers. Make sure each word serves a specific purpose, is attractive to readers and stays on point.

2. Clear Intent

The same guidelines as those of the subject line apply to the bulk of your content in the columns of the newsletter. Mobile devices are often used on the go and smaller screen sizes make readers spend less time actually taking in the content. Make your intentions clear right from the beginning and place them where they will get noticed immediately.

3. Plain Text Version

Start to include plain text copies of every HTML message you send for those subscribers with mobile readers that don’t support HTML. This will eliminate any potential issues your subscribers may have with the new design.

4. Space Out Links

Keep the links in your email newsletter spaced out to make it easier for readers to click.

Imagine the frustration of subscribers who try again and again to press a link on their tiny mobile devices. Organize links without clutter to ensure that subscribers can click them with ease, then go the extra mile by making sure your links direct to a mobile-friendly page. By now, many content managers offer mobile displays that automatically turn on when they detect a smart phone browser – so half the job is already done. All you have to do is check!

5. Double Check Different Devices

Do some research ahead of time to find out what your newsletter will look like on all the popular mobile devices. For instance, a message that’s clear on an iPhone doesn’t always look the same on a Blackberry and vice versa.

This may mean adjusting contrasts between the background and font or simply providing the option for subscribers to “view online” if their phone won’t display your newsletter correctly.

6. Tag Your Images

If your newsletter includes images, make sure you include an alternative tag to describe what the image is. (You should be doing this for any HTML content you create – mobile readers aren’t the only users who may not be able to see your images.)

Do not stuff the tag full of keywords! Use it for what it was meant for: to briefly describe what the image is in a way that lets your reader make sense of it when the image isn’t visible. Many devices can display your images correctly, but not all of them will, so it’s smart to use alternative texts to make sure every reader gets the message that the image was supposed to convey.

For parents on the go and teachers with overcrowded classrooms, it seems the use of mobile emailing is gaining more and more users. The real challenge is designing emails that are visually pleasing without compromising functionality.