Key guidance for communicating with the public using email and newsletters is as follows:
People interact with text differently online than they do in print.
Simple black and white emails are sufficient for most email conversations, though some people prefer to send replies in a different colour text. Where applicable, choose a font colour that will provide a good contrast, like dark blue or dark green.
You can choose to write your emails, automated email notifications or newsletters in plain text, rich text, or HTML. However, best practice is to provide an option to choose between plain text and HTML.
Plain text email is suitable for most simple, routine correspondence. The advantages of plain text are as follows:
However, the limitation of plain text is that you cannot apply document structure and the links are limited to full URLs, which are not very user friendly.
Rich text allows you to add formatting to your text. You can make text bold, add underlines, and insert links. Rich text does not allow you to add ‘semantic structure,’ such as headings, which helps members of the public using screen readers in navigating through long, complicated documents.
HTML email is recommended as the most accessible email format, as it allows you to add formatting and structure to your message. Emails created in HTML can effectively include anything that may be included in a standard web page.
When images are unavailable (for example, if the device is not capable of displaying the image or if the person has visual difficulties), equivalent information must be supplied. Alt Text should be provided to convey the same meaning as the image. It should be provided for all images.
This helps the person to understand quickly the content of the email.
This makes it easier to identify the content of individual files.
The body text of an email should mention if a document is attached in different formats. All attachments should be accessible.
Providing members of the public with information on the expected response time will help improve their customer experience by providing better communication.
Digital newsletters are often a combination of a HTML email that a person receives in their inbox, which then links to a ‘microsite’ with further information.
Ensure the newsletters follow the guidance above for;
Email and Newsletter Guidance Checklist