For years, email design has lagged behind website design. This is mostly due to email clients’ slow adaptation to the evolving digital design world (especially the rise of responsive design).
However, in the last five years, email clients have started to include features that were previously only available on the web. The revelation in 2016 that Gmail will now support integrated CSS and media queries, two tools that enable flexible design, was particularly noteworthy.
Email designers now have the opportunity to apply everything web developers have learned about modern design over the past two decades to email.
What email designers can learn from web developers is as follows.
Make sure the design is responsive, especially on mobile.
In 2019, mobile devices opened more emails than desktop computers. Today’s email designers must prioritize how emails appear on mobile devices while maintaining readability on desktop and tablet computers.
This is where the concept of responsive design comes into play. Your design will adapt to the screen size and resolution of the device it’s being viewed on if it’s responsive.
We advocate designing three separate wireframes for each email (or email template): one for mobile, one for desktop, and one for tablets, as website developers do.
Then, for email clients that don’t support media queries, use media queries to inform the layout how to render based on parameters like screen size, or utilize the fluid way.
On the other hand, responsive email design appears to be geared for mobile reading.
To improve readability, keep the design simple.
When it comes to mobile readability, website developers realize that a simple design is ideal. Multiple columns, as well as unique typefaces and designs, are tough to traverse comfortably on smaller displays.
The best approaches to keep the design basic are as follows:
1. Use a one-column design.
On smaller screens, such as mobile devices, single column layouts are the most visible. They also enable designers to produce a single stream of information that leads readers to take the required action (like clicking a button).
This unified stream of information also provides a better user experience than having to scroll from side to side or zoom in on a small smartphone screen to see everything.
2. Visual clutter should be reduced.
Any design feature that may be deleted without affecting the message’s effect is referred to as visual clutter.
Using separators to split parts instead of white space, for example, could be regarded visual clutter. Similarly, if font styles such as bold, italics, and distinct headings are not absolutely necessary to convey the content, they may be deemed clutter.
3. Make your design as simple as possible, and you’ll likely improve the user experience.
There should only be one CTA button. Developers that have mastered the art of conversion-focused design understand the importance of not forcing readers to pick between various activities. Designers should instead use only one call-to-action so that readers know what to do next.
In addition, rather of hyperlinked text, make your CTA a larger, contrasting button. On a mobile device or tablet, a button is easier to tap with a finger than hyperlinked text.
Take advantage of the web’s powerful responsive design principles.
To generate adaptable emails, email designers must at the very least establish a single-column design for smartphones. Designers who want to improve the user experience across all devices, on the other hand, can employ these slightly more complex strategies:
For emails with a lot of text, use progressive disclosure.
When emails are written like mini-essays, users on mobile devices see an infinite scroll of text, even if the email isn’t that long on the desktop.
Email designers can use web developers’ “progressive disclosure” method to overcome this problem. When certain aspects of the email (such as text sections) seem concealed beneath interactive features (such as headings) and are displayed only when the reader taps, this is known as a hidden element.
Readers can experience the email as ordered and minimal, and skip to the area they want to read, thanks to progressive disclosure.
Live text + background pictures are used to overlay text on images.
Previously, if an email designer wanted to show text overlaid on an image, they had to produce a separate graphic of the image and the overlaid text, which they then had to incorporate into the email template.
This is fine until your email client fails to produce your graphic correctly, in which case your message will be missing a key headline. It also necessitates designers creating unique visuals for each gadget wireframe, which adds to the work spent.
Instead, designers can take a page from website developers’ playbook: To make your text overlays, use live text and a background image. This allows you to have the superimposed text picture change for each device automatically, without risking a render failure.
In terms of design possibilities, email clients are finally catching up to internet platforms. In order to take use of these new features and generate more responsive, stylish, and conversion-friendly emails, email designers should consult web developers.