Become an Email Design Wizard

Become an Email Design Wizard

Updated on December 5, 2017.

Okay, so we can’t grant you wizard-like power, but we can help you improve your email design skills. (And we won’t say anything if you add “All Powerful Design Wizard” to your business card.) Basically, email design comes down to three practices that just so happen to make an alliteration: concise, clean, and consistent.

To help you take your marketing emails to next level, we prepared tips regarding email layout, colors, fonts, and content. All it takes is the strength to reign in your creative energy and focus it into a simple design. Let’s get started with some layout tips.

Layout

Since people open emails on desktops and mobile, use a layout that works for both, or utilize responsive design to accommodate different screen sizes. (Check out our blog post for more on responsive design.) In addition, these tips will help keep your message clear so your emails see more conversions.

Include your logo in the header

Do you ever see an ad and think, “Wow, that’s a great ad, but I have no idea what it was for”? Don’t be that brand! Placing your logo in the header will ensure that readers are aware of who designed the brilliant email they’re reading.

Stick to one column

If you’re not using responsive design, use a one-column layout to ensure your email is readable on desktops and phone screens. A narrow screen may distort a layout with multiple columns.

Don’t forget the footer

A footer not only lets readers know they’ve reached the end, but it is also a great place to stick important information. You might put contact information, social media links, and an “unsubscribe” button in your footer.

Colors & Fonts

There should be rhyme and reason to your color and font choices. You don’t want to start fresh with a new design for each email or you’ll lose brand recognition. Come up with a color palette you can reuse in new ways from email to email, keeping things fresh, but consistent.

You may have noticed that we recently updated our color palette. Our designers sat down and went through the old color palette and refreshed the dull red and green with much brighter hues that better complemented MarketNet's primary blue. Once you have a few core colors down, create tints and shades of each one, so you have some versatility while still maintaining consistency.

Creating tints and shades is as easy as adjusting the brightness and saturation of a color, while maintaining the hue. There is no exact science to it. Trust your eyeballs (and your coworkers' eyeballs) to develop a palette that's pleasing to you and works with your brand. Below, you can see MarketNet's full color palette.

Use colors that complement brand colors

It’s always good to keep your brand top of mind. So, if you can, use colors from your logo in your emails, or at least complementary ones. You want everything to look cohesive so your brand is memorable.

Choose stand-out colors for CTAs

Since the goal of your email is likely to get people to take action, make sure they don’t miss where to click! Use a block of color around text to create a call-to-action (CTA) “button.” You can A/B test to see how your recipients respond to certain CTA colors, shapes, and wording. Just remember to only test one element at a time.

Limit number of font styles

Too many different fonts will distract your reader, not to mention give your email an unpolished look. It’s best to use no more than two font styles. A good tip is to use a sans serif font for headings and a serif font for text (or vice versa). This way, you have some versatility while keeping a clean, consistent look.

Content

Simplicity is the key for email content. People are presented with many, many emails each day, which means they’re likely skimming through them. Wordy emails will just get left behind.

Keep content concise

Once you have down what you want to say, revise, revise, revise until it’s as concise as you can get it! Just when you think you can’t revise it any more, take a step away and come back to it. You’ll be surprised by what your fresh eyes will catch.

Use one primary CTA

Since the goal of your email is to engage your readers in some way, make sure any action you want them to take is clear and simple. If you include too many options, readers won’t know where to click and will likely just choose not to click.

Limit the number of images

While pictures say 1,000 words, the placeholder on email service providers like Outlook just say 10 pretty boring ones: “Right-click or tap and hold here to download pictures.” Since images don’t always download automatically, make sure your email is still clear without them. Be sure to include a fallback color and alt-text for all images, too.

When you’re designing emails, remember to keep things simple and clear so that recipients will understand your message and take action. If you find yourself trying to fit too much into one email, try breaking it up into two. Ultimately, people will respond better to simplicity. 

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