Design - Usability - Marketing

Email Design Tips You Should Keep in Mind

Even though the internet has provided us with a zillion ways to promote and market our businesses and attract new customers and clients, email still remains strong as the de facto standard of both professional and personal communication.

In fact, email is one of the paramount ways that has proven to be both reliable and failsafe when it comes to business communication. Got a problem with your web hosting company? Open a ticket, and the reply comes in your inbox! Got an announcement to make about your business? Shoot an email to your newsletter subscribers and customers! Got a discount promotion going on? How about using email for sending out discount links and promo codes?

As can be seen, email is a very effective medium of promotion and communication. Whilst it has been marred and defamed a lot due to evil spammers, it still is very handy and helpful, if used properly and with responsibility.


Quite obviously, designing an email layout too has its own pitfalls and requirements involved. In this article, I will be discussing considerations, tips and tricks that you should bear in mind when designing emails.

Email Design Tips You Should Bear in Mind

Design Considerations

First up, there are certain design considerations that you need to bear in mind. Let us discuss what these are and how to tackle them.

1. Minimalism

Get that straight: nobody has time to sit back, relax and read through one email after another. This is especially true if the email in question is a newsletter campaign.

Problem is, you cannot clutter your email design, because it will only dilute the user’s attention and before you know it, the email will end up being deleted. As such, minimalism emerges as your best friend. In fact, minimalism in email design is no longer a luxury, but a necessity altogether. Make sure the email templates you design follow minimalism to the core, so that the focus of the user’s attention is on the actual content of the email and not the design itself.

2. Call to Action Buttons

Most of the time, in email marketing, the call to action button plays the most important part. Got an important announcement to make or a survey to conduct? The best way to engage your users is to make them click on that fancy Call to Action button of your email.

And how does one do that? By following one neat tip: repeat that Call to Action button in the email, twice. Once, it should come at its normal position, somewhere in the middle of the email. Second, it should also appear right at the bottom, so that whoever has finished reading the email, is spared the agony of scrolling up to find the Call to Action button.

3. White Space

As already stated, minimalism should form the backbone of your email design. And minimalism is best implemented when you make smart and judicious use of white space. Use white space to break chunks of text that are too large to otherwise draw the user’s attention. Plus, you can also employ white space to lend an aesthetic look to your email, thereby encouraging users to read through it and possibly get involved in its content.


Do Not Experiment

There are certain areas where you can experiment and innovate, but email design is not amongst them.

Quite frankly, when it comes to email, being predictable and conventional is a very smart strategy. When people open emails, they are not looking to be surprised, so you shouldn’t try to surprise them either.

For example, use big Call to Action, that are predictable and stand apart. Why? Because just in case your users are on a mobile device, they might use either thumb to click on the said button, so it is safer to have a wider button. Similarly, colors for links in the email should be such that they are easily recognizable even on the smallest of screens.

Plus, use text in a smart manner. For example, a Call to Action button that reads “Click Here” is probably way worse than one which reads “Click Here to Grab Your Free Copy!”, simply because the latter talks in a better tone and reminds the user of their benefit.

Also, it is a good idea to come to the point right at the start of your email. State briefly what the said email is about, and then hop on to details later on in the mail. As such, if your design uses a separate text styling for the opening text so that it stands out and grabs the user’s attention straight away, you will be awarded bonus points for that!


Believe in Simplicity

Do not provide too many choices to your users. In terms of design, use a simple layout and color scheme, and implement it in a uniform manner. If you are making your important links bold, make sure you do it all throughout the mail.

Similarly, keep one constant color for your Call to Action buttons. One uniform typography scheme — no fancy vanity, please!

By offering a simple design layout, you are making your emails easier to scan at a go, and that is a big advantage, especially because most users tend to scan through emails quickly before deciding whether or not this interests them.

While this might not purely be a design consideration, try to be very transparent in your emailing skills. Make sure you have the headers, subjects and everything else in order. Scan for typos and grammatical errors, and so on. Furthermore, make sure you reveal your brand’s identity straightaway, lest you wish to scream “SPAM!”.


Responsive Design

While responsive design has become a hot trend in terms of web design, when it comes to email design, you need to proceed with caution.

It does not mean that responsive design in email is of less value. As a matter of fact, nearly half of total emails are nowadays read via mobile devices.

Problem is, the @media query that is used to implement responsiveness in design (it is a set of CSS styles that consist of dynamic rules and conditional statements to help you identify the screen size and act accordingly) is not yet fully supported by all the mobile email clients. So unless your users are using a mobile web browser to check their mails (trust me, most of them are not), you will have a hard time getting your responsive emails to look good across devices.

To make your life easier, the Android OEM Mail app, the iOS Mail app, the BlackBerry OS7 and Z10 apps, etc. are all supportive of responsive email design. However, the majority of mobile apps: including the Yahoo! mail app (Android as well as iOS), and the iOS GMail app, along with certain versions of the Windows Mobile native mail app do not support responsive emails.

Therefore, your best bet is to either be sure of the email clients that your users are on, or stay away from outright responsive and strike a compromise by designing universal email layouts and then testing them across multiple devices.


Email is one of the biggest tools of promotion and marketing. While services such as MailChimp and Aweber come with ready-made templates, anyone who is serious about their email campaigns should consider investing in a custom-designed email layout.

Have you designed an email layout recently? What all aspects did you take into consideration? Share your thoughts and views with us using the comments below!

Image Credits: Nutzumi | Sean MacEntee | Marie-Chantale Turgeon | Gino Borio

About the author

Writer; coffee-lover; best-selling author; editor of The Globe Monitor; blogs at Code Carbon. Learn more about my works, follow me on Facebook or Google+.

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