Design of email templates for an education startup


April 2020


Upchieve is an education startup who connect low-income youth with live academic support to help them on their path to achieving upward mobility.

My role

This project was initiated because I volunteered to be an Upchieve tutor in various subjects such as math. Through internal communications, I learned that they also needed design help for email templates, which I volunteered to help with. At the time, they had no formatted email templates.


I set up time with the Upchieve Co-Founder and Executive Director to review the objectives, previous research, design assets and metrics because I wanted to approach this project like I do all design projects by first understanding the problem before creating a solution. She said that I could use all the design assets created up to that point and that their developers were using SendGrid and could customize it to any degree I like.

Previous research and metrics

The Co-founder and Executive Director gave me insights into the fact that they currently receive a lot of traffic to their website's homepage for students, but saw a high drop off rate in the sign up flow. Given the situation with coronavirus, there were far more volunteers (like myself) but far fewer students. Part of the problem was student awareness (which they were working on by partnering with more schools), but another problem was that they didn't have an email campaign or templates to support reaching out to students as they started on the process. I also learned that users were dropping in the middle of the sign up flow, and these emails were meant to encourage users both in the middle of the process (if they gave their email) as well as after they had signed up but did not sign up for a tutoring session. I also learned that ~10% of traffic were coming in to the website on their mobile device so I wanted to be sure to create mobile designs. I also assumed that most students might also check email on their phones.


I then asked the Co-Founder for existing design assets as they were in the process of a redesign, but wanted to get the email templates out right away. I looked through existing branding materials, color palettes and assets to ensure I would stay on brand which was to portray a friendly and approachable tone, but without being childish, as these were students in high school.


I then worked with their content strategist who helped me understand the objectives of the first email they wanted to send out which was to clearly outline how a student can use UPchieve to make a help request once they've signed up. She sent me a google doc of unformatted text (as this was a totally new template).

I then worked through different variations of the email templates. I wanted to make sure content remained above the fold as I thought that it would need to grab the attention of high school students right away.

Design updates

I then decided to use more visual interest and color to draw the eye. As I was understanding more about the brand guidelines, I used some previously created assets for the banner in order to give more emphasis to the congratulatory message in the beginning. I then also incorporated some iconography instead of the numbers so that it would create more visual interest in long emails such as this one. I then also created a mobile design so that the developers would know how this design would look like in smaller devices.


I then also created a prototype to show how the email should look in an email client like Gmail as well as on an iPhone.


The design received positive feedback from the team and they immediately implemented them. I had also created two other emails in the template I created to show what it might look like for future emails. They hope to receive feedback from students shortly at which time I can help update the designs and implement them accordingly.

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