New Aweber Message Editor = Disappointment

My readers know that I'm a huge fan of Aweber. I've been with them myself for years and I truly think they're the best option out there.However, their new message editor is... disappointing.

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My readers know that I’m a huge fan of Aweber. I’ve been with them myself for years and I truly think they’re the best option out there.

However, their new message editor is… disappointing.

The Editor Shortcomings

My standard workflow when I send out an email is to write the message in a text editor and then paste it into Aweber. Alternatively, I will sometimes type the email directly into Aweber.

Most of my emails are simple text-only emails. We do have a full HTML newsletter for PCMech, but I have a custom system which generates the HTML and then we just paste that into Aweber.

In contrast to this, the new Aweber message editor works with “blocks”. You drag and drop different design elements into it and assemble the message from scratch. For the right target audience (think “newb”), it sounds good on paper. In practice, however, it is wonky as hell. The first time I brought up the editor, I literally COULD NOT figure out how to create a message. I was totally blocked – and I’m not exactly technically challenged.

Now, you don’t have to use blocks if you don’t want to. They do have an option to paste HTML into the new editor. But, the way it is set up is just confusing as hell. If you click the button to paste in HTML, you get warned with a nastygram saying all your data will be lost. If you proceed and paste in HTML, then switch to text-only view at the top, it again warns you you’ll lose all your work.

Now, I realize that that particular text button is the wrong one to press, but that isn’t obvious AT ALL.

So, the motto here is that the whole message creation process now takes a lot of extra clicks to get to the right screens, dismiss error messages, etc.

With all this clicking and dismissing of errors, you’ve also got general wonkiness with regard to the interface size. For example, if I’m on a laptop, the new block editor almost disappears when I scroll downward. If I’m in paste-HTML mode, when I click on the text view, the screen jumps back up again.

Is Aweber Ignorant Of Their User’s Needs And Wants?

I have to ask. I mean, I’ve had a few discussions with people on Facebook who also use Aweber… and I have yet to find a SINGLE person who prefers this editor. We’re all happy that at least they have the option to still use the old one.

When I complained directly to Aweber, I got this response via email:

 The new editor was a project years in the making, and was completely developed off of customer feedback as well as improvements that would eliminate common errors caused by the old version. The Beta version of the editor had been available in your account for several months,  and while it is easier to make upgrades during a Beta period, we are still open to any suggestions you may have. I can certainly understand that the new editor is quite  different from the old one, however like I have already mentioned, we are 100% open to suggestions if you see room for improvement anywhere.

The part that floored me was that it was “completely developed off of customer feedback.” Really? Because, I can’t find anybody who likes this.

I’m guessing the “customer feedback” they got was from the people who complained – only. The majority of their users (like me) were just silently using the product. I’m not going to bother to tell them I like it. It just… is.

As a long-time customer, I never got any pro-active survey from Aweber. Surely, they must have all Aweber customers in an email list. Couldn’t they proactively email us and get us to provide feedback in how we use it and how we like it? Because, I’ll tell them. But, I’m not very likely to proactively give them feedback unless I have a complaint.

I think Aweber innocently thought they were reacting to customer feedback, but in reality, they weren’t. They were listening to customer support, most likely. And support is for problems and confusions – not the entire user base.

And re-writing the entire editor wasn’t necessary in order to fix a few minor issues. I mean, what’s so confusing to people about a simple HTML window and a TEXT window. That’s what the “old” editor was – and it worked just fine except for a few odd little WYSIWYG quirks. Nothing major.

Enough Ranting

To the degree that Aweber listens and may come across this post… that’s why I wrote it.

I still like Aweber. I think they’re a great company with great people. I’ve even had the opportunity to hang out a bit with Tom, the CEO of the company. Really cool guy.

I don’t want to see them fall off their pedestal.

In this instance, I think they mis-estimated the “customer feedback” they were receiving with their message editor. And they over-corrected in a huge way.

I’m not one of those people who is opposed to change. Change is normal. But, when it makes a product inherently more difficult to use, it isn’t change for the better.


About 3 hours after originally publishing this, I am re-titling it. I originally called it “garbage” and I’ve changed it to “disappointment”. Here’s why…

Creating this editor obviously took a lot of work. And, the company is trying. Calling it “garbage” in the heat of my battling it is not appropriate. The editor isn’t garbage… and as a guy who used to do a lot of programming, I know what it takes to create something like that.

It does, however, miss the mark. The rest of my points stand. I just wanted to clarify my comments.


  1. Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to point out two changes we’ve made recently to the AWeber editor.

    1 – The code your own HTML mode now gives you an improved WYSIWYG editor. You can basically toggle between source and code views.

    2 – You can edit HTML inside the text blocks within the drag and drop editor.

  2. Wow! I just learned today that beside the “Create a messag” button there is an arrow pointing down. There is an option “Previous Message Editor”. That’s it. Been having this dilemma since 2012 and I just learned how to use it today.

  3. has anyone figured out how to modify an existing template? Ie. change the colors so that it matches a client’s branding. I am totally new to Aweber at a client’s request. I am used to CC, IC and the monkey… all of which allow infinite customization of existing templates.

    I’m finding it hard to believe that AWeber offers so little. I must be missing something?

    1. Its been awhile since I’ve been in there, but I’m pretty sure you are able to modify any template in Aweber, too. Nobody would use them if you couldn’t. 🙂 Maybe run it by support if you can’t figure it out.

  4. Old editor would let you indent. New editor does not. I figured I was missing something and chatting with customer service rep says you cannot, nor can you edit the html of the message. Ouch.

    Then the cs rep says: “You can also create a column in the middle (which would have to split the paragraph up) and make the column the exact width of the quote.”

    Ok, how do I do that?

    Rep says: “I’m going the play with the columns in your email really quick to try and find the best way for you to do this, one moment please.”

    Double ouch.

  5. I too think the new editor is crap. I only want to use the simple paragraph and I can’t figure out how to keep it from double line spacing. If I want double lines I can press return twice. I opened a ticket with them and go pretty much the same answer as the post author. I’ve also not heard of anyone praising the new editor

    Then someone said use the old editor. But I can’t it’s not available to me. It’s only available to subscribers that joined before the new one when live. I opened a ticket to see if they would allow me to use it – NO was the answer. They suggested using MS word, notpad or some other editor and then pasting it in Aweber. Really! Come on Aweber get a clue.

    I have struggled trying to use this block of crap editor for a year now. IT takes me hours to post a simple message. Aweber will soon be losing my business I have already started my migration to Getresponse.

    Sorry to the author but “Garbage” was the correct word, and that’s being way to nice.

  6. It is end of 2013 and the story is still no different. I tried many times to use the new editor but everytime I find myself switching to the old one.
    Wish they could make it more user friendly.

  7. I am at a complete standstill now as I’d finally been forced to give in and use the new ‘block’ editor, no longer having the option to use the old one. But after only two new messages in my new list, I’m at my 3rd message and somehow got stuck in a text only mode without any blocks or icons to be seen. Anywhere! So without an option, I have only the complete text (not even being able to hyperlink a few words which I believe is the best way to go in a text html email. I am like you, hardly technically challenged, own and operate a dozen blogs or more, and several funnels, membership sites and training programs, and thousands on my list, but stupified by this new interface. Especially now that even the html version is out of my reach!

  8. I found a way of getting back to the old editor on the internet: In the URL bar add ‘add’ after https//, making https//

    This worked for me, but it didn’t allow me to edit messages already made in the new editor.

  9. I am glad someone mentioned this.. I thought it was me doing something wrong.. I could spend hours trying to get the link work.. But I gave up.. I rather stick with the old editor..

    I wonder how many complain they got so far, with their innovative idea.

  10. Thanks for this post. Ever since they introduced the new editor, I’ve been worrying that a) I’m way more technically challenged than I realised b) they’ll remove the old editor and I’ll be completely in the poo.

    I’ve given up trying to get my head around the new editor and only use the old one. If they remove the old one, my first response would be to switch to MailChimp.

  11. I actually like the editor from the point of view that it doesn’t seem as fragile as the previous one.

    In the old one I would try to change one little thing (e.g. re-sizing a photo) and BOOM, suddenly there would be a new column. Gaarrrgh!

    So I’m finding the new one more robust but it still annoys in terms of colours (seems difficult to the “read more” change link colours) and layout flexibility (why can’t I wrap text round a pic?)

    I cannot understand how Aweber is so big and succesful (seemingly) and yet their editor is poor. I use Mailchimp for a smaller weekly project and their editor seems so easy by comparison and always takes far less time for a newsletter of almost identical complexity.


  12. Add me to the list of folks who wasted enormous time when I was SURPRISED by the changes. I had no idea they were coming, and I was able to easily navigate the old version. This one is absolutely not intuitive, at least for me.

    Some off little things, like I hate having whatever that text is in the paragraph box. I get to erase or overwrite it every time. Aagh. At least give me a blank box.

    I understand that it’s a “block sytem.” But when I first read “BLOCK” I immediately thought that the feature was not available. It took me a while to see how it was supposed to function. Time that I did not want to spend learning a new system — when all I wanted was to get my work done. Aagh (again.)

    I was relieved to find the old editor, but even that took some time. Not the best effort that Aweber put forward. Huge effort, I’m sure, but way, way, way off the mark.


  13. Hey David, I came across your blog because I can’t seem to figure out how to align my aweber emails to the left! It’s so frustrating. Do you have a solution yet?

  14. When formatting my newsletter I NEVER write on the aweber editor. It’s a mess.

    However, I found a little secret…

    Here is my process:

    It takes me less than 5 minutes per newsletter.

    I always write in office word
    I copy and paste my text on
    I select the Width usually 50 or 60.
    Click submit
    Copy from
    Open a New HTML Message in aweber.
    Delete the block editor (red x in the right side)
    Drag a Paragraph box into the editor
    Select the text and delete.
    Paste the new text from

    For hyperlinks, I only use CTRL + V to paste. Never the mouse

    1. Thanks for your post it has saved me a lot of frustration.
      I was using the old editor and everything was easy and then it disappeared right while I was using it. Then I got on to using the HTML editor and it was fine but then it started removing all my formatting when I pasted from Formatit or from a word doc. When I sent a ticket they said they couldn’t do anything about it! So I have been manually formatting which takes ages if your email is any length, very frustrating when in the old editor all I did was paste it.
      You have restored that function for me THANK YOU.

  15. I could not agree more…. Aweber is totally unaware of how the rest of us work. They don’t want you to use IE, no Chrome, no cut-n-paste, constant refreshing and clearing cookies.

    I’ve been working on newsletter that would have taken me 30 minutes in Constant Contact for over 5 hours in their “new and improved” editor.

    As soon as I can migrate all my clients away from Aweber, I will.

      1. I came across this when doing a search to see if anyone besides me hates the new Aweber message editor that rolled out in August… which does NOT have the option of using the old editor anymore. Before I could use that and copy and paste a message and it kept the formatting and line breaks perfectly. The current HTML editor doesn’t do that. It’s a mess and to use it would mean a whole lot more work and time.. Aweber has NOT been helpful and more or less just tells me, “It is what it is.” I have to find a solution or change providers, but then the next question is who? sigh…. It’s so frustrating. They’ve taken something that was easy for me to use and made it a nightmare.

  16. I have been a loyal fan and user of Aweber since 2007, and I have many clients that use it as well.

    But I really do hate the new broadcast editor, even though I recognize the positives Aweber has tried to employ in it.

    The positives to me probably only appeal to folks who want to create templates via the drag-and-drop interface. That makes sense, especially for folks who have absolutely NO experience in creating HTML newsletters.

    The negatives are:

    — the interface is VERY CONFUSING. It took me hours of testing, and testing….and testing to even begin to figure out the basics of it, and while I’m not technical, I use wordpress and a lot of other tools, and NONE of them are this hard to figure out.

    — I have had horrid experiences using it on Firefox 14 (examples: the ability to center text didn’t work). When I switched to IE, when I tried to highlight text to make it a hot link, the entire screen scrolled up or down away from where I had highlighted — jumping all over the place making it impossible to target the area I wanted to edit unless I used ctrl-shift and the arrow keys to highlight (and most people do not know how to use those keyboard shortcuts to get around such things.. .it was just me desperate attempt).

    — perhaps most importantly, there is no “html source view”. Any experienced person publishing newsletters knows no matter how good a template you use, or how good the interface is, that at times you MUST go into and correct unwanted double-spacing between text lines, do a line break to resolve an ugly “widow” or “orphan” word, etc. (unless you want your email to look like crap) But as of today, Aweber tells me there is no way to view the source of an email in the new broadcast editor.

    — because of the no view of the html source code, for those of with multiple lists who create one email for one list, and want to copy the source, paste it to another list broadcast, and tweak it for that list in WYSIWYG, WE CAN’T! Nope. You get the pleasure of starting from scratch on the next list. This is ABSURD!

    So while I applaud the effort Aweber made to seemingly make producing templates via a drag and drop, they seemed to have forgotten their even slightly more skilled customers who want more control of not just a template… but each email, when we need to go in and trouble-shoot some simple line breaks or other things using the html source view. That in itself shows me that the new broadcast editor was not properly vetted to its customers before moving out of beta.

    I hope Aweber will keep offering access to the old, classic HTML WYSIWYG editor, because if they don’t, I will be forced to move all my business after 7 years to another provider — even though I have been a proud, loyal customer of Aweber, and an advocate of it to many of my clients and fellow marketers.

  17.  Thanks, Tom, will do. BTW, was greatly impressed with the unexpected snail-mail welcome letter I got having signed up (all the way from the states – I’m in Ireland.) Yeah, I’ll be staying with you guys. Good job. Stephen Ward

    1. Just to follow up, was contacted by phone by an Aweber rep, Anthony, who explained where I was going wrong and sorted things out. Excellent service, first class. Can’t fault them on that and all credit where it’s due. As a new customer, I’m happy with my choice and will definitely be sticking with Aweber.

  18. Hi Tom, thanks for the plain template. Very helpful.

    If I could add one thing, for me the default text size is a little small. I’d like to see it more like the same text size by default as the unsubscribe text at the bottom.

    Unless I change my font size, the biggest text in the template is the “Unsubscribe”. Not ideal. Usually it’s the other way around lol.

    I’m guessing the font size was picked for portable devices? In any case, just my feedback to you.

    Thanks for listening and interacting with us. It really means a lot.

  19. David,
    I had put my Aweber account on hold while I was developing  a new site. In the past I simply dumped my html into the editor (email compliant html) and voila away I went! 

    So tonight, excited to launch my new site, I went into AWeber to setup my new templates and BAM! You can imagine the shock on my face when I saw this new editor. This is hte most awful thing I have ever seen. I’ve been designing websites for over 12 years, wordpress, html, php you name it! In other words if I can’t figure it out – who can?

    I really liked AWeber until now, and I really think I may have to find another solution for email marketing. Since Constant Contact doesnot take blogs generally, that leaves me only icontact. What a mess Aweber made to their editor!


  20. Great article David.

    I am also a fan of Aweber. But one of their weakest links has been their editor. So I had high hopes for the new editor. And then it goes from bad to worse.

    I am really surprised that Aweber is not able to develop a better editor. Well maybe we will see some improvement in the future. I still will stick wit Aweber.


    Are Morch
    Hotel Weber

      1.  I’ve only just set up an account, so forgive me if I’m missing something. But I’m finding it hard to personalise my custom welcome page with the editor. I see references to the old editor on the site and that seems to make more sense to me, less automated and therefore easier to find the actual code that’s required. But the old editor doesn’t seem to be available to me.

        BTW, in general I’m delighted with Aweber and I’m looking forward to being able to give my prospects a really streamlined marketing campaign. And I’m much impressed with the CEO being so present. So nice one!

        Cheers, Stephen Ward

      2.  I’ve only just set up an account, so forgive me if I’m missing something. But I’m finding it hard to personalise my custom welcome page with the editor. I see references to the old editor on the site and that seems to make more sense to me, less automated and therefore easier to find the actual code that’s required. But the old editor doesn’t seem to be available to me.

        BTW, in general I’m delighted with Aweber and I’m looking forward to being able to give my prospects a really streamlined marketing campaign. And I’m much impressed with the CEO being so present. So nice one!

        Cheers, Stephen Ward

      3. The main capability that I would like that I’m not seeing is the same one everyone here seems to be wanting:
        a normal, WYSIWYG rich text editor, with all the proper buttons for formatting the text, and an option (perhaps a tab) to switch back and forth from that to the HTML source code.  (GetResponse offers this.)

        Other things that would be nice would be:

        -a checkbox next to each message in a campaign list, so that you can choose a batch action for multiple messages (instead of just “all or one”)

        -ability to enable/disable messages in campaign without deleting them

        -ability to manually add contacts without needing to them to confirm.  I know for a fact both iContact and GetResponse allow this, and it has proven very helpful for me when needing to add a few people from different lists (e.g. if I talk to them personally and they mention “I’m not getting those emails…can you add me to that list?”…or if they have already confirmed in some other way.)

    1. Is there something specific that you find difficult to accomplish with the editor Thomas? We can’t improve upon “the editor sucks” unless I know what you like or don’t like about it.

      1. Hey Tom. First, thanks for a great service and thank you for taking the time to visit this comment section and respond. As a customer I really appreciate that.

        For me it’s figuring out how to send a plain text looking emails but it’s still HTML, like the old editor did. It looks as though I only have options to send either an HTML email using a designer templates (which I don’t want) or send a plain text email which does not include that 1×1 pixel used for additional tracking.

        I tried the paste HTML button but that look WAY confusing. I tried watching the help video and it didn’t show me what I wanted to know.

        If this is primarily a template system, is it possible to get a plain text looking HTML template?


      2. Tom – When someone says “you are exactly right” it typically means that one is agreeing with the statements made previously.  In other words – read the post, make the changes.

        To be more specific, my problem is the same as John Hoff’s.  I want to send plain text looking emails but still use HTML.

  21. Thanks for showing me I’m not completely thick! I discovered the change when I went into my Aweber account to quickly turn out some more emails to my growing list and – huh! I couldn’t make head or tail of the thing. I mean, how do you actually put type into your message with the new fangled didgery-whatnots? After getting cross and shouting lots of rude words, I contacted Aweber and – oh joy! – I was pointed to the old system.

    Long and short of it, the old system is better. I know drag-and-drop systems appear popular these days, but they have to be simple to work out. Perhaps a video showing people how to use the thing would be a help. 

    Also, I think they could have alerted people more to the changes. I realise now that the emails informing of something new going on at Aweber probably were alerting people, but I didn’t pay any attention because everyone is alerting people to their new thing. 

    Thanks again David. You don’t know what it’s like to be reassured it’s not just me who’s left shouting rude things at their meek and mild laptop.


  22. I am sticking with the old editor! Thanks for the warning about the new editor Dave.  From my experience having worked with a few startups browser based tech is very hard to get right at first.  Hopefully in time Aweber will iron out these bugs but for now I’ll stick with my tried and true system of copy, paste, and html editing.  Cheers.

  23. Haha,

    I actually hated it for the first 5 minutes. I was going to send them an email to tell them exactly where I thought they could shove it.

    Then I actually managed to do it and now I think it’s OK, lol. I must be the only one.

  24. I agree with you on this David. I wasted a load of time trying to fathom out how to use this “editor”. It was an exercise in annoyance and frustration and I ended up just cursing Aweber and the time they were costing me.

    Once again, an example of “improvements” that aren’t. 

    Then they send you their “feedback” request. I wasn’t in the mood to waste any more of my time on Aweber filling it in.

    Sorry Aweber, but you’ve put your foot in it with this “improvement”.

    Please UNimprove it – back the way it was before. It was working perfectly then.

  25. So last night just before bed I logged into my Aweber account and I was extremely frustrated. All I wanted to do after a really long day was log into my account and write my plain text HTML newsletter and send it out. I ended up having to leave it for a bit, help my wife get the kids to bed (kids lay in our bed for 15-30 minutes), and then get back to it and “figure it all out”.

    I never saw the “Use old editor” link, maybe I clicked too far into it.

    I had the same issues you had, David. I like to send plain text HTML emails so that 1×1 image pic can be embedded for better tracking. I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. To send an HTML message, I was being forced to use one of their templates. As such, I ended up sending a plain text message.

    Here’s my suggestion, and perhaps I will send this to the contact Tom left.

    Make one of the templates a Plain Text HTML template. MailChimp has had this option forever and it works really well. One click and a blank white area comes up with a WYSIWYG editor.

    Very simple and very easy to integrate into their new system. I think that would make us all happy, right?

  26. Ok seriously, I HATE IT!

    I’ve just been sitting here crossing my fingers and praying that the “Looking for the previous editor” doesn’t go away, so that I can keep using the one that I prefer.

    I keep clicking on the big green button, then having to go back, delete the post and remind myself to click on the link to go to the previous editor. 

  27. Thanks, Tom.

    I do think proactive surveying of Aweber customers would be a good idea, though. There are obviously a lot of people (like me) who didn’t spend time with the beta, and aren’t very likely to provide feedback unless we have an issue. People like me just want to get in and get out – and so we don’t spend much time with those things unless it gets in the way.

    Proactively asking (via email or survey upon login) opinions about the editor to see if such a drastic change was necessary would be in order. And, if you guys did do that… all I know is I never saw it. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by, Tom.

    1. You’re right David, satisfied customers don’t usually offer feedback: They just keep using and giving their custom *whilst* singing the praises to others as “fan marketers” (a fan base I promote as gold dust for businesses). Good to hear from Tom Kulzer though. 

      Your point about not seeing any survey, etc. leads me to the suggestion that Aweber should know about how to conduct email marketing since this is their business and in which they’ve carved a strong foothold.

  28. Personally I can’t stand it either.

    Thank god they have the option to use the old editor, however even that’s a problem because if you accidently hit that big sexy green button to start a new message, you then have to go back, delete the blank message it created and hope I don’t hit that big damn green button again. (Which admittedly I’ve done, right after slapping myself for doing it) Aweber, if you’re reading this, you REALLY missed the mark. New Editor = Fail. 

  29. Glad to know I am not the only one who hates it!  I’d much rather use the old system.  I have always found aweber customer service to be great, I think they do listen.   So maybe they will listen to this, but that would mean them flushing a lot of work down the drain.  

    1. I dont think they need to flush anything down the drain, necessarily. I think a better way to deal with it might be:

      – Give people an account preference where they can choose which version they want.
      – On the new one, make it so that the default option isn’t the “blocks” version, but instead HTML and TEXT. Make it more clear what is going on, rather than the confusing three options above the editor.

      1. To clarify, too (in case Aweber reads this)… the fact that they’re defaulting to the blocks version means that the default HTML code is huge. Rather than the simple blank slate that was clearly in view first.

        So, I would need to switch from “blocks” mode to HTML, remove all that garbage HTML manually, then try to paste in my own version. There’s, apparently, no WYSIWG anymore, so I’m forced to create the message somewhere else and paste it in. Then, switch to ANOTHER screen to do the text version. And, if I hit the wrong button, I’m greeted with an error.

        1. I also hate the new editor.
          I tried to create a “plain message with it” and the main block is indented with smaller text than the unsubscribe text.
          I can’t for the life of me figure out how to align all my text  to the left of the emal and make all the text uniform.
          Basic stuff make impossible.

          Too much bloat.

          The other thing that annoys me is that once I have created my message I can’t go back and edit it with the old editor. Now I have to delete the message and write it again. Not sure if that will stuff up the autoresponder sequence or not.

  30. I’m glad someone finally said it!!

    I started using the new editor a few days ago and wasted 30 minutes
    before I finally found a button to use the old editor.

    Then I talked to some friends and we had a nice rant together about how
    awful it was 🙂

    I think Aweber definitely missed the mark with this one. Like you though I’m
    a HUGE fan of Aweber but I think they would be better off just keeping things

    Thanks for the great article! Glad someone has said what I’ve been thinking 🙂



    1. Keeping things simple is the key. Their strength is in the delivery of emails and list management. I have a hard time believing that people’s pain points are with how to create an email in the first place. People kinda have that figured out.

      37Signals is a prime example of a company who succeeds by not making things complicated. There’s an example there.


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