Designing Emails

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs

If not designed and executed correctly your efforts can cause customers to lose interest and weaken your brand, rather than strengthen it.

If using an email marketing platform, browse their templates page and pick a template which best suits your business branding ‘style’. You may be attracted to others, but it is important to try and maintain harmony across all different marketing messages.

Types of email

Designs are often dictated by their objective e.g newsletter, events, welcome pages. Decide the main goal of your email campaign and use the appropriate (or a similar) category to guide you to make your final choice.

  • New product emails
  • Introduction emails
  • Existing customer emails
  • Money off emails

Formatting challenges

White space

When considering design people often only think of images, fonts, colours, it is important however to consider white space.

White space allows your brain to scan and interpret the information you are sharing. Select designs which are clean and clear of clutter, too much information can overwhelm your customer and your intended point can be lost.

White space improves our eyes ability to follow content and focus attention. Keep it clean.


It is worth knowing that the traditional methods we would more commonly use to separate text and images do not always translate well to email.

A table for example can view completely differently across different platforms (mobile, tablet) and across different browsers. If you have created a table in your email design and it looks good, bear in mind it is unlikely your customers will view it the way you can.

Images and Text

Ensure messages are succinct

When it comes to marketing material, our attention span is said to last only eight seconds. Cut to the chase – why does your customer need to read on?

Due to time and the volume of emails received, most customers do not read all content and merely skim. It is important to decide what your key messages are and make this as clear as possible.

A good practice once you have written your email is to re-read your text and try to remove as many unnecessary words as possible.

Image Choice

Pictures are worth their weight in gold when it comes to email marketing. They are visually engaging, but along with this they can communicate a message without the need for excessive words.

Don’t overlook imagery, every image you select needs to be carefully considered. Before pressing send, ask yourself – does the message you are trying to communicate in your text match with your image choices?

Image Size and Resolution

Another consideration in relation to images is how they display. Try to ensure they are not too small or too large, as they will either be difficult to view or detract from other areas of your message.

Try to get into the practice of adding your images at the correct size from the start, rather than resizing them once they are in your template. They may look fine at your end once resized, but it is almost certain they will view differently and/or distorted for your customers.

This looks unprofessional and can really detract from your credibility as a sender.

How will your email be viewed?

In our modern world, the majority of email opens don’t occur at a desk on a computer – they occur on mobile. Therefore it is imperative your design takes this into account.

Designs look different from a desktop to on a mobile – if your customers cannot experience your content as you visually intended, then your efforts will be wasted.

Try to remember this and check how your email views across different platforms, test it on your mobile – click through every link, check every box. Double, triple and quadruple check it looks as it should before pressing send.