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Delighting in the details: how we redesigned the WeTransfer emails

“Email design? Let the intern do it.” That’s what you hear a lot in the creative industry when talking about email design. They’re hard to build and the return on investment is most of the time very small. I can totally understand why lots of designers don’t get excited about email design. But if you think about it, sending an email into someone’s inbox — the place where most of us run our lives from — is pretty intimate as brand interactions go.

Our challenge as we set about redesigning our emails was how to bring the craft, care and attention that we prize on to this pretty dull yet exhaustive job.

Four very important cornerstones of WeTransfer are the super easy upload, the fast download, our wallpapers and the emails we send out. These are the things that made people love and trust us and make them always turn to WeTransfer whenever they had to send out something fast, in a reliable and trackable manner.

When the two founders of WeTransfer started the service, one of their main goals was that even their parents should be able to use it. So, from the start, the focus of the company was that everything should feel non-obtrusive and easy to use. This led to a very particular design challenge –how are we going to design an email that first-time users are going to understand straight away, but one that also works for our super-users, who send lots of transfer every day? If this email is your first encounter with WeTransfer, how do we make that first encounter count? But equally how do we design something that’s not going to annoy you if you are seeing it 15 times a day?

At the scale we are at now, we send 105 million emails every month. So when it came to redesigning the email templates, we knew we couldn’t f**k this up.

So from there we sat down to consider: how do we sum up our brand’s character and personality in such a small, simple design set-up?

People like being able to send their files simply, securely and quickly. But we are also known for being a creative service. 70% of our users work in the creative industries and we have always given away one third of our background wallpapers to promote artists, designers and musicians whose work we love. In 2016 alone, we gave away one billion (say whut!?) page views to awesome people. I still think this is a mind-blowing number. People can discover inspiring creative talents while they use us and we hope this feeds their own visual curiosity — we want them to feel creative by using us.

With this said, you could say our character and personality as a company is important. Of course we wanted to capture that feeling in the emails. This is why we worked together with 12 illustrators, designers and photographers to create wallpapers for our headers to create a unique WeTransfer feeling for the emails. Every email you receive will have a different piece of inspiration attached to it. This way we do not only give our emails the personality they deserve, they also give our users a peek into the world of WeTransfer.

For our WeTransfer Plus users, we created a better, more customizable experience. You can now simply upload a nice wallpaper and add a logo or avatar that become the core of your email. This means it’s easier to recognize your transfers when people receive them, and it gives the emails much more character. In this way you build more trust between the sender and receiver because you can create an ecosystem of recognizable brand elements with your download page and emails. I think one of the biggest achievements for a platform like WeTransfer is that people trust you. Building that emotional connection between sender and receiver makes us quite unique in tech. #humblebrag

Every email was custom designed for a specific use case through a modular approach, where we broke up all the emails into three categories — transfer related, action related and informative. Based on these three categories, we looked at every email individually: some emails could be very casual and fun, others needed to be super formal and super clear. In this way we tried to create the best user experience possible. In the end we did this for 43 emails which we translated into eight languages.

The new emails just went live last week and it will take a few months before we are able to say whether they have been a success or not. But the immediate user feedback has been really positive and it feels like, although this may seem like a small change, it’s a step in the right direction.

I think in a world where we are surrounded by screens and bombarded by UX design from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, it’s important to think about the little details — like these emails — that make a user feel special.

Details are the things people connect with the most. They make you memorable by building emotional connections with your users.

Often emails are overlooked and under appreciated. I’m happy we took it seriously, looked at it from all angles possible and tried to find a way to make it special. WeTransfer is a company where everybody is involved in making those details right, from the VP of design to (yes) intern. So as a designer, it makes me a happy camper that I work at a company that cares about those details.