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Email design – from overall style to the nitty gritty


Welcome to the first Adestra Profile, a series of posts where we’ll share some insight into the company and the big issues affecting marketing technology. Each post will consist of an interview with a member of the Adestra team, asking them about what they do day-to-day.

This month we’re discussing email design with Warren Byrne, one of our HTML and CSS experts.

A: How do you start an email design? W: Before thinking about the design, I believe it’s very important that you research the client. I take my time to study their website and see how I could complement that in an email design. It’s crucial to have that consistency because if you spend a lot of money on a beautiful website, your emails should be just as ‘glamorous’.

After I’ve studied their style, I think of other influences that I’ve seen in the same industry of that particular client and suggest things that would work well for them as well. Putting the time and effort to build the most effective design goes a long way with our clients.

A: What is a common situation when designing emails? W: It’s hard to find similarities across all clients but it seems that clients are happy when they have a nice-looking template that works for them and is part of their style.

I find the usability and flexibility of templates are two important things. Some clients even prefer usability over design because at their end, the people working with the email template have a range of different experience levels. So from someone who has no clue of HTML down to the most experienced designer in the team, everyone should be able to use the templates.

Some of the more advanced coding in the email can sometimes be broken by an inexperienced user, but you should always make sure everyone can cope with the basics. If anything breaks or if clients are unsure of how to do something, we’re always on hand to help them fix the problem.

A: From your experience, what are some tips in email design that you can share? W: There’s a few, actually.

1. I’m a great advocate of responsive design and with all the talk on mobile responsive coding at the moment, it’s important to get it right. So I recommend all of our clients to have a fluid design, 100% width content and avoid adding static heights because that will ruin the layout. 2. Email design is a lot about research and data more than the actual design. So one thing I recommend to everyone is to find out how their emails are read – which platform and which email client? That should reflect in the way you design the email. If people read on a mobile platform, there is not much use in doing a flashy website-style email because it’s not going to respond well. And if it doesn’t look good you lose your major audience because they can’t read it. 3. Learn to get a good mix of image to text ratio. Too much text and your customers will get bored. 100% image and the spam filters will block the email straight away. I recommend 50%-50% but you can change that according to your industry. Just keep it visually pleasing. 4. Another important thing to get right is fonts. If it doesn’t look right, you will lose your subscribers. So make sure you have a font style actually placed in the coding so whatever content you add, it’s always going to be consistent in terms of typeface, size and color.

Key takeaways:

  1. Put in the research and go the extra mile when designing emails
  2. An easily usable and flexible design will go a long away, but be prepared for when things go wrong
  3. Get your fonts and image to text ratio right

About Warren

Warren ByrneWarren has been with Adestra since August 2012 and admits to feel very lucky to work in a field he is passionate about. He is part of the Production team, in our Professional Services department and specializes in HTML and CSS.


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