Email Best Practices

3 facts about email designers and what they do for us

Email designing is like a complicated art. It takes time to master it. Late 2013, we attended the London email design conference, and here's what we learned about the email design world.

Two Gods painting with some brushes



I think we do not give enough credit to people who conceptualise, design and ship legitimate emails to our inboxes. Email designing is like a complicated art, due to industry restrictions and the reality that most people take emailing and their own inboxes very seriously. This is what I gathered from the 2 day conference organised by Litmus. I have been wondering since, when and if, things will improve in this domain. Cross-browser email design is today in a much worse spot than front-end development.

What's happening to the email designer world?

Late 2013 I attended the London email design conference, as the title says it is a conference about designing emails, email marketing challenges (mobile, browsers) all wrapped around a friendly community. A lot of information has been shared. Many give it for granted that making a marketing email look nice only takes a matter of minutes but in reality, it's a total different story.

Have you ever payed attention to the amount of time that email marketers put into researching the colors, images and text that is sent out to hundreds of thousands, if not million of users every day?

Take a look at this email right here, looks catchy and efficient, wonder how many hours went into this

Whether it is a marketing email with some offers to engage activities, or a transactional email with a password reset, someone did spend the time to code that email, the colors, the text, the layout, the pictures or other images.

Email designers belong to a weird group of people as they are praised by some, hated by many and mocked by others.


The work of an email designer can raise the engagement between the customers and the company. If an email is well designed, well presented (subject, body preview) and its content smartly portrayed, it leads to an increase of the open rate. This means it could be converting a customer into making a sale.


Customers sometimes receive newsletters which they're not really interested in. This leads to an uprising anger, as they feel flooded with tons of newsletters from different vendors. A marketing email is not just a pretty email created to annoy its community, it's a vehicle of transmitting important information to a wide userbase, something that is retained in your inbox and archived, that you can always get back to.

Laughed at

Front end designers that create beautiful HTML5/CSS3/JAVASCRIPT compliant websites might tend to mock the art behind the creation of an email with inline style codes, that is so hated and hard to maintain. A lot of times when claiming to be an email designer, people automatically associate you with one of those guys that create those flashy, spammy emails: unfortunately that's something built into our society and which is hard to move away from. In the past a lot of the emails sent did not follow the strict set of rules and regulations that we have nowadays. Hopefully one day this association with spammy marketers will vanish.

A challenging world

Creating a good newsletter design is something that isn't for the faint hearted. There is a need to fully understand not only about one's company branding, but also some amounts of psychology to gain an insight into how humans interact with computers and its projected visuals. Although statistics prove that using red-ish buttons will increase your click rate of 25% or above, this is not as simple as adding 1+1.

Email design proves to be particularly challenging when compared to web design for a lot of reasons, the most crucial being the lack of support for Javascript, font personalisation, email clients rendering emails in different ways, deliverability issues if rules are not respected.. and many more.

If the lack of all the above, the technology and flexibility given to web designers wasn't enough, you need to factordeliverability in all the above. Emails need to be permitted to reach the inbox that is where the opt-in laws come in place. If you are serious about deliverability you need to consider a lot of factors: HTML standards, Hosting images on the domain name sending the emails and a few more

Have you got any email design war-stories to share? The world out there is grey for people involved in the creation of attractive newsletters. If so please do so in the comments!

Orlando is a Developer Evangelist at Mailjet - he often shares things he learns on the field on this blog!

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