When you sign up for a discussion list but can’t deal with having every topic and comment sent to your inbox, a common workaround is to sign up for a digest email to be sent periodically, recapping any new messages since the last digest was sent.

Digest emails have ONE job: to help you answer the question, “What did I miss?”

From day one, email digests have been a big part of how GroupBuzz helps communities’ members feel less overwhelmed by email. Our first version of GroupBuzz sent a pretty basic digest email, which looked a lot like most discussion list digests.

 

Which was already light years ahead of the mailing list digests that we’re used to seeing. In fact, typical digests are SO BAD that the only way we could figure out how to show them here is to save one as a 13 page PDF. Yuck!

We kept our digest simple, and focused on a few key things:

  • Recapping the topics that had activity in them since the last digest
  • Showing the faces of the people who had participated in those topics
  • Previewing the contents of the most recent comment.

But it still had the biggest problem that ALL digest emails have.

Context is king, baby

First, why would somebody even click in to read a digest in the first place? Well…with a sexy subject line like this…

Yeah. Not much to go on there. But take a look at the digest emails you’re subscribed to. Are they much better?

“You have new messages” isn’t a very useful or enticing digest, especially when we’re bombarded with notifications everywhere we turn.

But what if you saw THIS hit your inbox, instead:

Maybe you see a name you recognize, and click inside. Or maybe it’s a new and unfamiliar name that catches your eye. Either way, you instantly get context for what you might find inside the digest!

What’s inside counts, too

When you’re reviewing a collection of discussion activity, the latest message in a thread doesn’t always give you enough information to really get a sense of what’s going on. Especially if a discussion hasn’t been active in a while, a brand new message without any idea of the thread’s history can be really confusing!

So our new digest design aims to help make it easier to remember the discussion, even if you’re just quickly scrolling through the digest.

Now you can see a lot more about each discussion at a glance.

We still feature members’ names and photos as much as possible. But now, we show a condensed version of the entire thread, including an excerpt from the first post in the thread to help you remember what the latest messages are in reply to.

In between the first post and the most recent post, we show you the photos of any other contributors and how many other replies you could see by clicking in to view the full discussion on the web.

Do you use digest emails in other services? Any favorites?

GroupBuzz is focused on helping people have conversations, but we’re always looking for inspiration, even when it comes from unlikely places.

Do you subscribe to digests in another service that you love? Share a screenshot on the comments below and tell us how it helps you!