5 things I learned from designing and developing for email.
1 — In email, content is still King
Recently I’ve listened to arguments that say content is no longer King — content is everywhere, it’s in your face, and it’s free for all so how can it be King? They say what is now King is the strategy that’s assuaged the content. Hence twitter and Youtube etc, with their algorithms that pull the things you’d like to see from the things you interact the most with. But listen, when it comes to designing for email, content is still king. So that your design must present your content in the neatest way, think visual hierarchy and all the things that allow for your readers to keep reading when they open your mail. This is so that before you start that your breathtaking design, you’re thinking, what do I want my users to see? How am I finna show it to them?
2 — Make it look sexy like Kendrick would
I know I said all those deep things about content being King but whether content is King or not you still have to make the thing you’re designing look sexy. We should all aspire to this. Think color selection, font-family, font-size, font-color, font-everything. You’d learn that these are really important. You’d learn that typography in itself can make or break your design. I’ve always designed and developed things for the art community and they usually have pretty images and art that I love to play around with. So imagine how I looked at my reflection in the mirror when I had to design a Tech email newsletter, no pretty images, what to do? what to do? Of course my boss said my first design was “fugly” and I said “yeah.. hmm.. umm.. okay..” while I was dying inside. But my point is whether you understand that content is the main thing or not, it has to look good. And although these things are subjective, there’s still a threshold. (Idk? Maybe? Maybe not? Oh well.) So do your best to make it look pretty and responsive. Never forget responsive. And also, if you manage to make it look sexy while maintaining content as king, I’d need you to take Kendrick’s other advice and Sit down. Be humble.
3 — I’d have another table please..
So your design is ready and looking like a fresh haircut you know.. you want to start writing your html and then you decide to start nesting divs like you would a normal webpage;
First of all..
Don’t do it.
<td></td>, <tr></tr> and <table></table> tags to create rows and columns. You’d need nested tables as well. If you’re going to use divs, you can only use one pair in each row, don’t nest them. Don’t put divs inside divs. Do. not. Do most of your heavy lifting with tables if you can. Also read documentation to see what’s supported for each email client and what isn’t. Here’s a link. Don’t play yourself. Also, here’s an example.
<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" height="100%" width="100%" id="bodyTable">
<td align="center" valign="top">
<table border="0" d="emailBody">
<td align="center" valign="top">
I'd write my content here if I were you.
4 — What is a stylesheet?
So email has neither the time nor space for external stylesheets. I don’t mean to shout but 🗣 Keep all your CSS inline. You can also do some styling in the style tags of your header. This is actually a relatively new improvement. Before, it wouldn’t have worked. A while ago, some email clients like Gmail (Ikr?) would’ve stripped off all the styling from the header tags before rendering. Mad ting. But now, they allow it. But still forget external stylesheets. They’re completely canceled. But if you happen to make a mistake and create external styles for your email, there are tools online that can convert your external styles to inline CSS or something. They might come in handy for you. But I’d rather control my processes.
5 — Test test test
After you’ve followed all these steps, you should not run into many problems (don’t quote me abeg), but yeah these steps would make your life and email design and development a lot easier. Unfortunately you know how all these email clients are proud and heady with minds of their own. They react differently to different things. You’d need to test your email to see how it looks on different clients. My pocket no carry Litmus and the like so after a lot of digging and searching, I found this free email tester inboxinspector.com. They have really bad SEO. They’re really hard to find and they don’t test on some really important clients like Gmail but they’re pretty cool. You don’t have to sign up with a credit card. They don’t offer a “free trial”. They’re a blessing and you’re welcome.
NB — While designing and developing newsletters, I did quite a lot of reading and research on them and I just want to say that we don’t do enough with email newsletters in these parts. If you run a business or enterprise and don’t have a newsletter or email campaign thing going, wyd? They’re great for content dissemination and marketing. If you’re looking for someone to develop and design your custom email newsletter template thing and you have dollars….
(Lmao. Jk. Jk.)
Thanks for reading. Ily! ❤
Also, let me leave you with a song for the weekend. More life.