Why a lazy designer is a blessing for your emails

Have we totally lost it?! After telling you about the grandmother principle (if you haven’t read that blog post yet, catch up on it here) for writing great copy, we advise you to slack off when designing your emails. But hey, bear with us and hear us out: it will all make sense!

Wasn’t it Bill Gates who once quoted

“I prefer to choose a lazy person to do a difficult job. Because a lazy person will always find an easy way to do it.”

The quote actually came from the American engineer Frank B Gillbreth Sr. He studied the best and poorest bricklayers and found out that we can all learn from the approach of the laziest workers. Whereas the expert craftsmen were more wasteful of their motion and strength, the lazy workers eliminated unnecessary action and reduced fatigue. The key takeaway? Work smarter, not harder.

Automation to the rescue

When it comes to working smarter, marketing automation can certainly be of great help. It’s all about using the right tools to automate repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posts or lead generation. Marketing automation tools make these tasks easier, less time-consuming and more efficient. Letting the software do tasks like sending follow-up emails can free up time to analyse results and see what needs improving.

A lazy visitor is a happy visitor

When designing a landing page, email or even an entire website you should always bring out the ‘lazy one’ in you. This doesn’t make designing the perfect content easier. But it can help you to understand your readers better.

The goal of your design is to make the experience of the visitor as smooth and easy as possible. If you keep in mind that your users are inherently lazy, you can improve the usability of your email by applying a few simple tricks.

Don’t make me think, Steve Krug’s book about improving usability, is considered a must-read in the field of UX. Krug sets out some basic principles on the usability of interfaces. These can be applied to all types of content, from an email to landing pages. The main idea is to create designs that don’t require users to figure out how the interface works, making the experience as positive as possible.

Are we really that lazy?

Sorry to break it to you… it seems we actually are. We all love to save time. And having to think about what we need to do takes time. So if we, as designers, take out some of the thinking users need to do, we are make their lives easier. Rather than reading full pages, readers prefer to scan and search for keywords that match what they’re looking for. So make sure your content is scannable and broken up into easily digestible sections with clear headlines.

When was the last time you went to the second or third result page of a Google search? The point we’re making is: we don’t always choose the best option, but tend to go for the first reasonable option available. This is also known as satisficing. We search for possible solutions until we find an acceptable option. This means we don’t go through all information, but we stop searching once we believe to have found enough information to serve our purpose.

Another thing people don’t like to do on the web is figure out how something works. If for example a signup flow is not clear enough, they will try to skip it. And you can be sure of it: they’ll leave when they get frustrated if something doesn’t work the way they expected. Can you blame them?

So let’s take a look at a few tricks and tricks to dumb down your design and make it lazy proof.

1. Use clear call-to-actions and links

As we've said in this blogpost, if you want people to click on something, make sure that it’s crystal clear. Design a simple button in a standout colour and use that same colour for text links. This adds consistency to your design and makes it clear that clicking this link will to the same as the button. Also make sure that the linked part of the text is underlined.

If a text looks clickable, make sure that a user can click on it and that a logical action takes place. Icons or micro animations can help guide users. A particularly helpful tool to test links is a heatmap. This will tell you what a visitor is doing on your website and provide insights in the actions he undertakes.

2. Avoid having to explain things

When you need to inform or explain to the user how to use/navigate your page, it’s probably too complex. The goal is to make it as easy to understand, without giving instructions. The page or tool should be self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible. When some clarification is necessary, try to keep it short and subtle.

If you think an FAQ page would be relevant, try to keep question like “How do I …” or “Where can I find …” to a minimum, as they could give visitors the impression that your page isn’t all that easy to use.

3. Show the users where they are

Just like in the real world, you can guide your users with clear signs and markers. Your main navigation is like the north star which visitors can always rely upon. Another great way to help visitors keep track of where they are is the use of breadcrumb navigation.

Do you require your visitors to fill in a multi-step registration form? Show them how far they are in the process by adding a progress bar. Do you have an email welcome program? Give your subscribers a sneak preview of what they can expect in the next email. This has the added benefit that contacts will be motivated to keep opening your emails.

There’s no ‘right’ answer

The big problem and a misconception is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for most design issues. Your best shot is to keep things simple and keep testing what works and what doesn’t. Because without actual feedback from your users you are just assuming. This will depend strongly on the kind of brand you are or the market you’re in. Heatmaps, A/B testing and Google Analytics are great tools to see what works fine and what needs improvement.


Our job as marketers is to simplify the life of our clients. But when we’re really passionate about what we have to offer them, we tend to overload our audience with information. And that might make them lose interest. That’s why it’s crucial bring our message across as simple and clear as possible.

So, like Bill Gates and Frank B Gillbreth Sr., let people’s inherent laziness inspire you. Use it as a principle for the way you design your emails. Will that always be easy? On the contrary, simple design can be a tough cookie. But when you apply the above tips and tricks before you hit the send button, you’ll be able to sit back, relax and watch the response rolling in.

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Posted on
Mar 22, 2021