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Designing Effective Emails

Email Design

We all get a ton of emails every day. Some of them attract our attention more than others. Some of them we open and click through, and some we just delete. While it takes more than a well-designed email to get your customers to take action, it's important to have a well-structured, well-designed email that makes the viewing experience easy to navigate. Whether you're designing these emails yourself or using a template from an email marketing client, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Standard Width

Similar to websites, there's a standard width for emails. While resolutions of screens keep growing (1024px, 1920px, 2560px, etc.), the suggested width for an email is 600px wide. The suggested width is relatively small for this reason: most email clients display the email in a preview pane, which is more often than not a smaller percentage of the actual screen. Using a smaller width eliminates awkward horizontal scrolling and makes emails easier to read.


With more than half of all emails being read on mobile devices, it's never been more important to make sure your emails display properly. Even though the html code used in email design is slightly archaic and the way different email clients display the code is never consistent, most templates that your email marketing platform uses should be responsive. If not, talk to us.

Image to Text Ratio

It's important to have a balance of text to image usage in your emails. It's pretty simple to understand. More text = less likely to be marked as spam = better chance your email will land in the recipient's inbox. When you DO use images, make sure to use alt text with each image, so in case images don't load, the alt text will be displayed instead.

Content Placement

This tip is pretty obvious and is similar to website design. Try to prioritize your content so the recipient doesn't have to scroll too far down for your main message.

Clear, Repetitive Calls To Action

Your email serves a purpose and you most likely need the recipient to take action. Be sure to make your CTA clear and prominent. Since most emails require scrolling, be sure to repeat it farther down the page. Don't shy away from using big buttons that are easy to click with your finger.

Background Images are a No No

As mentioned earlier, email design uses an archaic form of html code and not all email clients display code the same. Most clients don't have the capability of showing background images, so definitely stray away from using them.

Testing Testing 1,2,3

Test your email as much as you need. Check for spelling mistakes and missing links and make sure your email displays correctly in all the popular email clients (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Apple Mail). Once your email's deployed, there's no turning back!

Interested in becoming a rockstar in all aspects of emails? Check out our other blog posts Ten Tips to a Great Subject Line and Strategies for More Effective Email Marketing Campaigns.

Brian Needles Headshot
by Brian Needles
Brian has a great deal of passion for all areas of design and technology. He's worked across all disciplines, but specializes in web design and branding.
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