Email design is so much more than what you see in an email. It’s also the strategy that goes behind creating your emails before you build them, and the brand personality that resonates with your subscriber at each touchpoint. It’s also ensuring your reader gets a great experience, regardless of device preferences, accessibility needs, or disability. Of course, these are just a few components that make up great email design and in this blog, we set out to share 6 email design best practices we swear by so that you can add them to your email toolbox too!

Before we dig into our favorite design best practices though, we wanted to quickly share how you can keep your branding and design preferences consistent using an Email Design System. Don’t just take our word for it! Check out some of Taxi’s customers who have benefited from implementing an EDS into their team. 

What is an Email Design System?

An Email Design System (EDS) is a pre-built and designed selection of HTML modules (blocks) that are on brand, render properly and work without constantly involving coders in the building stage. 

Throughout the past few years, Email Design Systems have become more popular as companies are understanding the benefits they bring. An EDS can improve both the experience for your subscribers and the production processes within a team. You can design and create emails at ease without code knowledge and without limiting creativity in your team. You can do all of this whilst staying on-brand and meeting your brand’s needs.

An EDS helps teams build email campaigns quickly, at scale and without limitations. Plus, if companies invest in building high-quality code they can create better email and designers have more time to create powerful design and imagery which resonates and engages with customers. 

Having a thorough and worked-out Email Design System provides a valuable framework to speed up the onboarding process and allows new employees to quickly catch on to your email program. You can find out how to get started with your own EDS here.

Now, onto the best practices!

Our Top 6 Email Design Best Practices

1. Be strategic with images/image placement 

  • Utilize high-resolution images and try to steer away from non-stock images when possible
  • Stock imagery is okay but it doesn’t always do a good job of telling a story or exciting the reader
  • Strategically place your images depending on the email story or what you want your subscriber to get out of the email/the action you want them to take. Take a look at the email and think about what you want them to see first!  
  • Be mindful that large images will fill up your CDN (large subscriber lists and heavy images can start getting expensive!)
  • GIFs have great engagement and keep your EDS fun 
  • Insert personalized images whenever possible

2. Create designs that can be viewed on all kinds of devices

  • Make sure your designs are compatible on mobile devices, desktops, and tablets
  • All mobile phones render differently so make sure you test these before you share them
  • Make sure you build for different breaking points 
    • Example: When something is a certain width it might stack on mobile devices instead of showing side by side like it would on a desktop.
  • Design for both dark mode and light mode 
    • The colors will invert in dark mode
    • Logos will look different (be wary of background colors and how they look in dark mode too!)
    • Font colors will invert e.g. black to white so be mindful if you use background colors and how these will look on each mode.
    • Images might not render how you intend which means testing is a good idea!

3. Be accessible with your design

  • Keep your font minimum 14px to ensure your emails are readable on different devices. 
  • Try to use as much text as you can. Whilst emails including images are good – they aren’t useful for screen readers
  • Always add alt text to images: even for readers who can easily read the copy there is no guarantee that everything will load (poor wifi or data)
  • Simplify the layout you use: use a clear, easy-to-read email layout with a balance of text and imagery to help navigate the reader.
  • Use clear links in the copy and check that CTAs are big enough to be clickable on mobiles and tablets.

4. Make sure you have a natural flow of design between all mediums 

  • Your website, email, app, and print should all look similar and flow naturally.
  • It is important that your customer knows who the email is from at the point of open – they shouldn’t have to look for your logo/in the footer for branding. Having an identifiable brand helps with your brand identity and reputation and there’s less risk of customers not trusting your emails. 
  • Brand and email design guidelines are a great way to do this! 
    • *Remember that your emails won’t look like your website because emails never look the same across different browsers and devices but that is okay!*

5. Create a basic layout to chunk content together but keep it simple

  • Email Design Systems are made up of HTML blocks with multiple field, image, rich text and spacing options. This is a great way to create lots of modules (blocks of HTML) that can be flexible for the different types of email you build. You can build emails using a set of modules without limiting creativity!
  • Think about fonts, sizes, and colors when creating your EDS
  • Do not over clutter by writing one huge paragraph, split them up! 
  • Use bullet points, numbers, and spaces to keep the reader engaged but not overwhelmed.
  • Have subtitles to split up the readings 

6. Personalize and add emojis to your emails ~ get creative

  • The first thing your customer will see is your subject line and pre-header text in an email. Try to use this as your chance to draw the reader in and be creative. You can do this by adding personalization, powerful copy, emojis, emotion etc.
  • Add some personalization to the subject line:
    • Hi {first_name} want 20% off your next order?
  • Steer away from using all caps (it could land you in your customers’ spam folders!)
    • 50% off flash sale TODAY!
    • “YOUR upcoming trip details :airplane:”
  • Adding a nice addition such as an emoji naturally helps tell the story 

 

Overall, have fun when it comes to email design! Think about what you can do to appeal to all audiences, not just a majority of your subscribers, and add small and creative details as you go. These 6 simple email design best practices we swear by will ensure your EDS will be perfect! 

 

~ Lauren Stein

(Marketing Intern)