Introducing Canvas - a revolutionary new way to build emails

By David Greiner on 19th June 2014

As readers of this blog know better than anyone, building emails that look amazing everywhere has always been a lot trickier than it should be. Throw in the growth of mobile in recent years, and it’s only getting harder. Today, we’re ready to start reversing that trend by announcing a revolutionary new way to build emails. It's called Canvas, it’s available in your account right now and I think you’re going to love it.

Here’s a quick video demo to give you an idea how it works.

If you’re keen to give it a try, jump into your account and create a campaign. You’ll see a new gallery of emails you can quickly customize and make your own. If you’re interested in why we built Canvas and what makes it special, then read on.

For the last 12 months or so, a special team inside Campaign Monitor was tasked with creating a completely new way to build beautiful emails. Something that ignored all the current approaches out there, was intuitive, flexible but also simple enough for anyone to understand. And finally, the end result had to be a beautiful email that worked on every device, every time. Simple, right?

After exploring and testing literally hundreds of different UI approaches, we ended up with the simple design you see below.

Styles, not templates

If you’ve created an email with other tools on the market, you’ve probably come across a library of hundreds, or even thousands of templates. Each of these templates might only have subtle differences like a different color scheme, or an extra column. We thought that was backwards—overwhelm people with choice up front before they even add their content to the email.

Instead we wanted Canvas to be flexible. Let me choose a style of email that matches my brand, and then give me the ability to customize how I lay out content as I add it. Your content should inform the design of your email, not the other way around. For launch, we’ve got 10 completely different template styles available.

Once you’ve chosen the style that suits you best, that’s when things get really interesting.

Introducing layouts

Every single template has a range of unique layouts you can drop in depending on the type of content you’re adding. These layouts can be reordered and content can easily be dragged between them and will automatically update to suit the design for that layout. We’ll be adding more and more layouts to each template over time.

This approach means we can offer a smaller number of “templates”, but gives them almost endless flexibility based on the type of content you’re sending. No two emails from Canvas ever need to look like they came from the same template.

One blue line to rule them all

Drag and drop is a tricky thing. It’s great because it lets you easily move your content around as you build your email. But if you have too much flexibility when it comes to positioning elements in an email, it becomes too easy to break the grid and end up with things out of alignment. It also becomes confusing when you move an element and it doesn’t appear exactly where you intended.

Our solution was the blue line. Pick something up, move it around your email and we’ll show you all the places you can drop it with a simple blue line. We’ll automatically resize it down to suit the new location, adjust the padding, font weights and every little detail so that no matter what changes you make, your email stays balanced and conforms to a precise grid. Here’s what it looks like in action:

A decade of email design knowledge

We’ve spent the last decade deep in the darkest corners of email design and discovered so much along the way. Every single trick, technique and a whole host of new hacks we’ve discovered as we built it have been poured into Canvas. Automatically generating VML code for your buttons so they look amazing in Outlook. Web fonts that work in more email clients than you’d think. Crazy table nesting tricks and complex media queries to stack columns on mobile devices. Retina everything. You name it, Canvas does it automatically and in the background. And yes - we'll share the coding techniques we've developed in the process of creating Canvas here very soon.

Bring back the spacer

The idea of pixel perfection and email in the same sentence is something most email designers will laugh at. Rightly so - while it’s something you can come close to for the web, email clients and their pesky CSS support makes it near impossible for email. One very cool addition the team came up with (and a nice salute back to the older days of web design) was the new spacer element.

If you’d like to move away from the defaults Canvas provides for padding and margins between elements, the spacer allows you to tweak their position and we’ll do the rest to ensure it looks as intended across every email client. You’d be surprised how handy this thing is once you start building your own emails.

Build templates for your clients in minutes

If you’re an agency or designer, Canvas is an insanely easy way to roll out new templates for your clients. Choose a style, drop in their logo, customize their footer and give it a name. Your clients can then jump in, choose that template and get access to all of the power of Canvas. We've put together a big FAQ to answer any questions about Canvas, how it fits in with existing templates, what your clients will see and more.

And of course, for anyone who wants to roll their own designs using our template language, the old editor will still be available for your clients, and all existing templates will continue to work exactly like they always have.

A strong foundation

The most exciting thing about Canvas is that it’s just getting started. The team have built it in a modular way so we can continue to add more templates, more layouts and more types of content over time to give you even more power. We’ve got big plans for Canvas over the next 12 months, and are already heads down on some really cool improvements to what you see today.

It’s been a massive effort by the team to get us this far, and I personally wanted to take this opportunity to thank them for building something we’re all insanely proud of. We can’t wait to see what you start creating.

152 Comments

  • Martin
    19th June

    Wow can’t wait to try it out tomorrow

  • Karl
    19th June

    Very nice work guys -  been waiting for a nice drag and drop for ages. Can’t wait to try this out. Well done.

  • Chris
    19th June

    Awsome. It’s 2 AM overhere, I was going to bed… but that’s gonna have to wait ;-)

    Quick question though: I would love to give clients access to this new feature, but NO access to importing templates. As far as I can see now after a quick glance, these two access rights cannot be separated? If so, that would be my first feature request ;-)

    Other than that…. wow wow WOW!

  • Jay
    19th June

    The drag and drop layouts are awesome, but are we going to get the ability to choose our own colours and fonts?

    The pre-built styles are great, but if someone can’t find one that matches their brand, it will rule out the use of Canvas.

    Ideally a designer should be able to take a pre-built style, change the colours and fonts (and some sizes), then save it.

  • Chris
    19th June

    Feature request #2—> Translated or translatable texts for Webversion, Unsubscribe, Preferences and sharing links.

    But still over the moon.

  • David Greiner
    19th June

    Thanks for the amazing comments so far guys.

    @Chris, we could definitely consider getting a little more granular with our template permissions for clients. Right now if you don’t give them template access, you van easily create a template for them and the client can login and use Canvas to add their content to it. If you enable full template access, they can create new Canvas templates, and also import their own.

    Language support is also right near the top of the list, we’ll announce it here as soon as it’s available.

    @Jay, the ability to tweak colours is one of the next updates we’ll be working on now that we’re live. We agree that more flexibility there would be great.

  • Mandy
    19th June

    This is a great addition to Campaign monitor, I had a lot of fun playing with it.

    But I’m with Jay, having the ability to specify our own colour and fonts, or even to create our own versions of the templates based on the pre-existing ones would be awesome.

    It would be nice to offer the flexibility of canvas with the specific branding for a client.

  • Nicki
    19th June

    This looks so amazingly awesome! I’m going to start playing RIGHT NOW! Thank you!

  • Anika Jaffara
    19th June

    Awesome! I’m excited to try out Canvas. All this, AND the ability to include your own designs. NICE!

    Thanks tons!

  • Matt
    19th June

    Bravo. Just bravo!

    My favourite part outside of the actual product? The video. Please let all your future product launches be that catchy!

  • Jon Livingston
    19th June

    Once again Campaign Monitor outdid themselves. Bravo.

  • Cameron Moll
    19th June

    This looks outstanding. And who did the Canvas logo mark?

  • Buzz
    19th June

    Cheers @Cameron, the logo was drawn by the super talented Carla Hackett

  • Samuel Clarke
    19th June

    This is big. Huge props to you all at CM! Excited at the possibilities this brings to me and my team.

  • Andy
    19th June

    Great job, it’s awesome!

    I’d echo the previous comments re tweaking colours but it sounds as though you’re already on to that.

    My other big request is the ability to create dynamic content in Canvas :)

    Looking forward to using this.

  • David Greiner
    19th June

    @Andy, great call on dynamic content - we’ve got some cool plans on that front too. Nice to see we’re on the same page.

  • David Greiner
    19th June

    Oh, and @Andy I should also point out that dynamic content does work now inside text blogs using our tags, but we have plans to make it much more user friendly.

  • John
    19th June

    I like that the song in the video is totally a rip off of “Someday” by The Strokes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knU9gRUWCno

  • Mark Kennerley
    19th June

    Wow! Really excited about this and perfect timing as I am just about to update our company template.

  • Mark Kennerley
    19th June

    Sorry for the spam, but I have just quickly tried a test one out and oh my, hats off guys!!

  • Simon
    19th June

    Looks great- really easy and intuitive to use, however have to add my +1 that it really needs the ability to change fonts and colours - like the old template editor did.

  • Nathan Best
    19th June

    Had a play this morning and really enjoyed it. Canvas is soo simple to use. I can’t wait for the ability to adjust colours and then this really will be a tool I can use for my clients.

  • Steve
    19th June

    Using it now and I really like it - good work - but I have noticed a few things that I’d like to see added/improved.

    - header logo. I’ve worked out that it’s300px wide, but I’d prefer to have a choice of width.
    - font colour, wider choice of fonts, ability to choose exact font size.
    - ability to edit source code. I’d like to be able to add my own in-line CSS.

  • Chris Guillou
    19th June

    Campaign Monitor raising the bar intelligently again !
    Awesome job, and if I may push the translation of non-editable texts to the top for your non-english speaking clients…. :-)

  • Greg Strutton
    19th June

    That is really great to hear @Mark Kernnerly!

    Added your vote to that for you @Simon :)

    Thanks for the feedback @Nathan Best, I’ve just added your vote for those features.

    Good to hear @Steve. To keep a consistently good looking design, and to help stop templates breaking in email clients, we’ve fixed the design elements and disabled access to HTML/CSS etc. However, all those comments have been added to our feature request list!

    Thanks so much @Chris Guillou, just added your vote!

  • Bart Rylant
    19th June

    Canvas looks amazing because of the flexibility. However, I feel like this is made for clients who just want to make emails that “look nice”. For me - as a designer - it’s a dealbreaker I cannot choose fonts, colors, and which “lay-outs” clients should be able to use (e.g. only 2 colums lay-outs). The designer-options from the template builder combined with the flexibility of Canvas would be awesome.

  • Jean Hins
    19th June

    Super great feature! I am on my ...

    So easy to create new templates now!

    Just a question how can I use a button for the “forward to a friend” feature? If i put forwardtoafriend I get an error on the button.

  • sharon
    19th June

    I echo Chris
    “Quick question though: I would love to give clients access to this new feature, but NO access to importing templates. As far as I can see now after a quick glance, these two access rights cannot be separated? If so, that would be my first feature request ;-)”
    this would be a great option

  • Jacques
    19th June

    Two words. Game Changer.

  • Kroft
    19th June

    Great feature!
    But missing an export option to tweak styles to match the brand. Or, better (and like mentioned earlier), make it possible to edit colors of fonts and backgrounds. And last, but not least, choose fonts.

  • Greg Strutton
    19th June

    Really appreciate the feedback @Bart Rylant! Don’t forget, as designers, you still have access to create and import your own great looking templates. However, added all your comments to our feature request list!

    Great to hear @Jean Hins! That is something that we’ve listed to look into, so just added your vote for this.

    Thanks @sharon, added your +1 for that too.

    @Kroft it’s something we’ve got listed, so added your vote!

  • Cameron Moll
    19th June

    High five, Carla. Well done!

  • Jamie
    19th June

    Love the new editor. It would be great to be able to update the colours of the headers, text and backgrounds though.

    Another great option would be to set maximum heights on the images so when a client adds an image it was automatically cropped to a particular set of dimensions.

  • Andrew Boardman
    20th June

    Beautiful work, as always, CM. And lovely logomark by @canarycarla. We can’t wait to try Canvas out.

  • Matt
    20th June

    This looks like a terrific product! Very smooth.

    One question: what’s the song in the video? Tried searching. Can’t find any song with those lyrics.

  • Jason De Santis
    20th June

    Hi Jamie! Thanks for the feedback! I’ve added your comments to our feature request list!

    Cheers Andrew! Have a go and let us know what you think! :)

    Hi Matt! Thanks for the compliments! The song was specially composed for us and is not available directly to the public, I’m afraid.

  • Tom Reinhart
    20th June

    This kind of innovation is what differentiates you from the pack. I look forward to our continued association with CM.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Jason De Santis
    20th June

    We really appreciate the compliments, Tom! Thanks to you and all our customers for allowing us to keep creating and taking things to the next level. Cheers!

  • Brian
    20th June

    Super fluid and fun interface! Absolutely spot on. However, as a designer I want the ability to create my own Templates.

    Are there plans to make canvas the only method of adding content?

    i.e.. create our own templates like now (with your awsome language), but when it comes to us (or customers) adding content, we use canvas?

    Mega Props to your design team on canvas!

  • Jason De Santis
    20th June

    Hi Brian! That’s an interesting idea, however, its not something on the roadmap at the moment! We’ve prioritized reliability and responsiveness when building a template, so that has meant leaving some things out - like the ability to export templates and edit the source with Canvas. I’ve added your vote for that feature. Thanks again for the compliments!

  • Peter Yee
    20th June

    Remarkable. So excited and hope to see more stunning emails in the future made by CM.

    I read a research recently that says non-formatted emails have higher engagement than formatted emails. But no matter what it says, I’m opt for beautiful emails.

    P/s: I shamelessly steal your logo as a source of my inspiration. http://www.peteryee.my/inspiringwell/canvas-by-campaign-monitor

  • Seppo Sinkkonen
    20th June

    Canvas looks great! But where did the old template editor go? At this point without features to change colors and languages this seems downgrade :(

    +1 for the language versions.

  • Christof
    20th June

    Don’t you just love it when you release something big, and you get a ton of feature requests? :) I don’t know if it’s already been requested, but do you forsee any of this type of layout functionality being improved in the template language for our own custom templates?

  • Jason De Santis
    20th June

    Hi Peter, Seppo and Christof! Thanks for all the feedback!

    Seppo: The old template editor can be accessed by clicking on a Template Builder template. Its possible to use it to edit a past template, but not to create new templates, I’m afraid. I apologize for the limitations there. It’s not possible to change background colors in Canvas templates at present, but this is something we’re hoping to introduce, and as David said, languages are also on the way!

    Chistof: Sure, feature requests are expected to make a good thing even better. :) At this stage, using custom templates or exporting those Canvas templates is not in the cards - if it’s something we add at a later date, we’ll let you know!

  • Finge
    20th June

    Absolutely amazing! Once the ability to customize fonts and colors arrive this will be even more amazing!

  • Jordan
    20th June

    We’d also like to add our vote re the ability to export the HTML once the template has been created :)

  • Joanne
    20th June

    What front-end framework are you using for this app? Angular, Backbone, etc.?

  • Mathew Patterson
    20th June

    Thanks for those votes guys, we’re definitely listening!

    @Joanne, the front end framework is indeed Angular.

  • Galen King
    20th June

    Fantastic work, team! You guys continue to lift the bar! Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Jamie T
    20th June

    Love the idea of Canvas, this is definitely a step in the right direction for the future of CM.

    Unfortunately it’s not really all that usable at the moment. With only 10 templates, no customization and the popularity of CM, there will be a lot of same looking emails flying around.

    Need to be able to customize:
    - Fonts, colours, backgrounds
    - Button styles, other design elements
    - Layouts, with pre-built content

    Of course, adding more and more features would maybe make the standard editor too complicated for most.

    The natural progression then, is to convert the existing composer for custom templates to have the same features as the Canvas Composer.
    I think this really is a must going forward.

    After all, the best part of Canvas is it’s style of Composer.

  • Aaron
    20th June

    This sooooo cool but as a designer / business owner we really need ability to customise colours and fonts to match our brand.

    Any idea when this flexibilty would be added?

  • Mathew Patterson
    20th June

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts guys, we really appreciate it.

    @jaime, we’ve already seen an amazing range of emails sent via Canvas, I think you’d be surprised how different they can look with some careful design decisions.

    We don’t have a fixed timeline right now, but rest assured Jaime and Aaron that we are already working hard on adding even more to Canvas especially around colours and other customisations.

  • Brian
    20th June

    +10000 For what Jamie said… have both… Canvas with your super responsive amazing Templates… and you “convert the existing composer for custom templates to have the same features as the Canvas Composer.” So us mere mortals can make our own :P and still offer the coolness of canvas composer. Give us the choice to select from yours or our own.

  • Laura
    20th June

    Wow, thank you CM team, that’s great!

  • Jop Berkhout
    21st June

    I’ve had an extensive email thread about this with Paul West. The editor is beyond awesome, but I immediately fell over the same things people are talking about here:
    • No control over logo width or height
    • Not possible to change colors of background and content blocks
    • Not possible to choose fonts
    • The old editor (in which you could control these) is gone!
    You are doing great CM, but I’m afraid you’ve underestimated some of the most important wishes of us, designers, front end developers and agencies.
    Keep it up!
    Jop

  • Nathan
    21st June

    Great stuff! Would love to see an option for agencies and developer types to be able to export and customize the generated code; obviously there could be rendering issues if we don’t edit the code properly, but I think that should be a choice we can make.

    With the old template editor, our workflow was to use the generated template as a starting point for our smaller clients, and then customize the resulting code to better match their brand.

  • JeffAtWebstop
    21st June

    Is “Fresh” the only template that offers 60/40 or 75/25 spaced slots?
    I know that’s a very common ration, and I see it in screenshots with other templates but I can’t seem to figure out how to use it in any template other than the Fresh one.
    I notice that you can add zones with only the layout and without the filler content.
    If it’s possible, it would be fantastic if some of the other temapltes could have layout zones added that use the 25/75, 75/25, 60/40, 40/60 ratios.
    Thanks for your hard work on the new canvas editor; it really works great on mobile!

  • Simon
    23rd June

    Great start guys and some awesome potential here, but (as has been said 20 times already here) without the ability to change the colours and brand things properly it obviously can’t be used for real live client work.

    Any ideas on the kind of timescales we are looking at to get some more controls/customisation options built in?

  • Mathew Patterson
    23rd June

    Hey Jeff,

    Journal, Onyx and Hue also have that sidebar layout option, if that’s what you’re after, but there are more layouts planned and we appreciate the feedback.

    Simon, while I think “can’t be used for real live client work” is a little broad (we seen tons of beautiful campaigns for real live clients go out already), we hear your request for more options.

    No timelines we could promise right now, nor particular order of improvements, but the team is already working hard on the next update. Keep it coming!

  • Damien Buckley
    24th June

    This is a really nice step forward but in agreement with some other comments here regards the lack of flexibility regards colour selection etc, may I suggest that the old Template Builder option be brought back until more flexibility can be added to Canvas.

    I logged in today to knock up a template that would have taken me 10 minutes or so in template builder and have had to duplicate one of the old template-builder templates as a starting point - none of the new Gallery templates are suitable.

    This seems a bit retrograde and I’m stuck if I have to do something for clients who don’t have an existing template-builder template. Additionally, there seems to be very little flexibility with logo placement and sizing in most Canvas templates either - unless I’m missing something?

    Have to agree with Simon that this feature has great promise but isn’t ready for prime time. Please, PLEASE bring back template builder as an option.

  • David Greiner
    24th June

    @Damien, thanks so much for the feedback, as always. I just wanted to chime in and let you know that more colour and logo flexibility is at the top of our list (along with language support), so while we understand this causes a little pain in the short term, a solution won’t be far away.

    It’s also worth mentioning you can easily duplicate an existing template made with the old builder and tweak away like you always have.

  • Brook McCarthy
    24th June

    Please bring back the template builder.

  • Adam Houston
    25th June

    Love the new features and think Canvas a huge step forward. Nice work Campaign Monitor!!!

    That said, I’d have to strongly +1 getting the old template builder back as an option. Canvas is where it’s all headed but for now we have certain clients where the old template builder would be a much better fit.

    I did try to export out an existing template but all the features and customization builder elements are gone. So using that format now is much more time consuming and could create errors.

    I guess I don’t get why it has to be an either/or type situation. They both have valid uses. At least until Canvas gets some of the basic customization features (colors at the very least) that were available in the old version.

    Don’t want to complain because the new work is so great but I do want to share what we’re hearing from clients. Thanks!!!

  • James
    25th June

    Great work guys, but I can’t see it completely usable until we can tweak the outer HTML elements of the newsletter ourselves… clients sometimes come to us with a template to code and have very specific brand layout requests…

  • Jason De Santis
    25th June

    Hi Brook and Adam! We can certainly understand how the “either or” might be an unwelcome plan. I do apologize for the inconvenience! Right now, its still possible to use old Template Builder templates as well as edit them (you can duplicate and edit to create new ones), you just can’t choose to create new templates from scratch, I’m afraid. Giving too many options can start to be confusing and clutter the app, so we’ve chosen to give Canvas as the option to create new templates. I apologize for the limitations currently, but we’re working to improve those so hopefully, it will be a welcome replacement for the old Template Builder.

    Adam - were your trying to export a Template Builder Template to use as a custom template? If you need assistance there, do drop us a line and we’d be happy to help.

  • Jason De Santis
    25th June

    James - thanks for the feedback and apologies for the lack of customization in Canvas templates at this time. We can see how that can definitely be a limitation when it comes to specific branding/colors and your vote for that request has been added! :) Hopefully, we can implement this in a future update and will let you know should anything eventuate.

  • Laura
    25th June

    Fantastic work as always Campaign Monitor. Please add my vote for being able to edit colours… in the longer term term it would be great to have full customisation and export options, but just adding the ability to edit colours would make the difference between us using it and not using it.

  • Megan
    25th June

    Great work guys! Please add my vote to be able to have the ability to specify our own colour and fonts.

  • Erwin Heiser
    25th June

    Awesome work - but another vote for making colours editable. The base templates are really good but being able to match a certain client colour palette is essential for pro use.
    Must’ve been a hell of a job - kudos to your dev team!

  • Jason De Santis
    26th June

    Hi Laura, Megan and Erwin! Thanks so much for the compliments as I will definitely pass those on to the team!

    I’ve also added your votes for editing colors and fonts! We can certainly see the need here and hopefully those make it in a future release. Cheers!

  • Mark Walker
    26th June

    Wonderful! Love it.

    Quick question…. your video explaining Canvas is great, any chance we can have an unbranded version for resellers to explain the concept?

  • Jason De Santis
    26th June

    Its great to hear you’re loving Canvas, Mark! We don’t currently have a white-label version of the video yet, but your vote has been added for a future, reseller version. We’ll be sure to let you know should anything be released. Thanks!

  • Andy Morgn
    26th June

    This is brilliant, really brilliant, but I have to add my voice to the chorus demanding the ability to tweak HTML / CSS at some point in the process.  I’ve just created a template but need to increase the size of the company logo by a just 30 to 50 px.  Can’t find a way to do it.  A combination of Canvas doing the heavy lifting and the user adding final touches and refinements directly in HTML / CSS would be a wonderful thing indeed!

  • Greg Strutton
    26th June

    Thanks for the feedback there Andy, we’ve added your votes!

  • Kate
    26th June

    +1 from me on the ability to tweak HTML/CSS
    In this form I cannot even add a table to my article content, which is sometimes necessary

  • Jason De Santis
    27th June

    Hi Kate and thanks for your feedback! A vote has been added on your behalf! :)

  • Nicki
    27th June

    I’ve just sent my first Canvas email campaign, and I’m very pleased. It was fun to build, and it looks great! Fortunately one of the templates worked well with my client’s colors and branding. Like a zillion of the other people who’ve commented, I’d like to see the ability to change colors and fonts, and ideally to edit HTML/CSS.

    There were a couple of little layout glitches after sending, but neither was too serious - in Outlook the social buttons at the bottom slightly overlapped the address, and in my webmail the logo at the top was aligned left instead of centered and overlapped the section below it slightly. I was using the Slate template.

  • Bo Sundgaard
    29th June

    I love it, but will not be able to use it before translations is possible. Other suggestions would be:
    - Image crop + color adjustments (BW, sepia…)
    - Resize images that match the with of text-blocks
    - Combine 2-column and 1-column without frame-lines in all templates
    - Edit all mailto parameters in links (subject, content…)
    - Possibility to customize fonts and colours
    - It is very annoying that the add content button is at the button. It makes it difficult to add content at the top when composing a large email. It should be at hovering at the bottom at all time, or there should be an extra button at the right frame
    - It does not reflow in Gmail

  • David Greiner
    30th June

    @Nicki, great to hear the first campaign went so well. If you do spot any rendering issues in email clients please let us know as we’ll go to any lengths to get your emails looking great everywhere.

    @Bo, as mentioned earlier, other language support is well underway and we’re hoping to have it released soon. Most of your other requests are either near the top of the list or being considered too.

    As for adding layouts, when you mouseover any layout you’ll see the option on the right to reorder that layout, so you can easily move one back to the top of your email at any time.

    As for the Gmail reflow, I assume you’re talking about the Gmail app on an iPhone, which unfortunately doesn’t support media queries and won’t come to the party on truly responsive emails.

  • Brent
    1st July

    This is ridiculous. You can’t even edit text colour?? Really, it’s such a basic feature. Can’t believe you’d launch an otherwise great, new platform without this ability..

  • Kieron
    2nd July

    I have to echo the numerous comments above about the VERY BASIC need of a designer to be able to edit FONTS, and COLORS in a design.

    Guys the idea and ease of use of Canvas is exceptionally good, but the inability, in fact the complete INflexibility to edit fonts, colors and styles is a MAJOR problem.

    This MUST be fixed ASAP. Today, right now, on a deadline, I cannot deliver an autoresponder that matches my client’s brand specifications.

    Branding is EVERYTHING in a campaign. PLEASE FIX!

  • Kieron
    2nd July

    I need to add to this and ask that you let us know firmly when this basic functionality will be added. The “no timeline yet” answer is not really acceptable. We’re all running businesses here and producing work for paying clients. I can’t understand why changing colors and fonts would not be considered a “must have” in a new platform before permanent roll-out!

    It feels like you’re not looking after your clients by just giving us all a “watch this space” kind of answer.

    Could we also ask that global and “no going back” changes like this be open to options and feedback before implementation? I didn’t know anything about Canvas until today and I’ve hit a brick wall this morning by not being able to create a satisfactory design for my client who is very very specific about branding requirements.

    Canvas is AWESOME guys, but it’s not ready yet.

  • Carissa Phillips
    2nd July

    Hi Kieron - we’re really glad that you care enough about Campaign Monitor to be honest with your feedback. I’ve just emailed you directly with some more information explaining how you can still access all the functionality you had before.

    Right now it sounds like the functionality that the older template builder offers you is still the best fit. We totally get the need for custom branding and the option to amend an existing template or create one from scratch is the way to go there.

    We do apologize that this was a surprise to you today, we tried to reach out to everyone through various emails as well as an entry in your account Activity Feed. While I’d love to give you a specific time frame for when font/color options will be available it, we’d rather be up front and say it is actively being worked on, but we don’t know for sure yet when it will be done.

    During the years that you’ve been a customer with us, we hope that you’ve seen us respond well to customer feedback, making changes whenever possible. Please know that your comments and concerns about meeting your clients’ needs are thoughtfully considered by our whole team.

  • Seth
    3rd July

    Any chance of open sourcing this Canvas editor?

  • Stephan
    3rd July

    Love the editor - would be GREAT to have it work with building RSS templates…any chance of that?

  • Günter
    3rd July

    Hi,

    why can I only “Custumize this template” and not “Add content to this template”?

  • Jason
    3rd July

    I absolutely love the ease-of-use with Canvas… totally awesome!

    But add my name to the list of those asking for control over colors and fonts.  Especially with very simple layouts, using our brand-specific colors for headlines and links is very important to us.

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    3rd July

    Hi there Seth, that’s one to think about, but in the immediate we don’t have plans to open-source Canvas. That said, we certainly want developers to do more with our service and will continue building on our API so our tools can be used and extended in your projects.

    Stephan - Yes, use in RSS emails is something that we’ll be certainly looking into. Stay tuned to the blog using our RSS-to-email list (haha!) to stay abreast of the latest.

    Günter - Sorry, you should be able to add whatever content you desire to our templates. If you’re stuck, please get in touch with our team with details and we’ll happily work with you :)

  • Tom
    3rd July

    Why is there no way to access Canvas via the Templates tab? When I do, the only options I have available to modify in the template are “Header” and “Social and Sharing.” There’s no way to change anything else like colors and fonts or adding/modifying layouts.

    Also, when I’m adding content and I click on the “Add Layout” button, I see a group of 8 gray boxes, but, no layouts at all. If I click on one of those gray boxes, then the layout appears, but, there’s now way to see what Layout I’m actually clicking on.

  • Kenneth
    3rd July

    Really nice work. Do you plan to integrate choice of system language as in the origin template builder?

  • Niels Rameckers
    3rd July

    We definitely like to add our vote to have the possibility to export a new template!

  • Greg Strutton
    3rd July

    Hey Tom, Canvas is accessed when creating a new template which has fixed elements that you just add your basic details too. We’ve got plans to update the way you can change colors and fonts etc, so added your vote for this. The layout adds some predefined content blocks to the campaign for you to edit straight away. Each block can still be moved or removed or added to by dragging other content blocks from the options on the left.

    We do indeed Kenneth, it’s on the cards and is something that will be added in the not to distant future.

    Just added your vote Niels!

  • bhavik
    4th July

    How to center the text inside div

  • Edwin | Dev of LIVEditor
    4th July

    This is great! I’m been using Campaign Monitor for a long time and especially like that wufoo is integrated with CM.

    BTW, What’s the title of the song in the background, if you don’t mind?

  • Simon
    7th July

    +1 from me for ability to add colours and change fonts.

    The builder is brilliant but it doesn’t matter what the layout looks like, if we can’t edit colours or fonts, it’s going to be pretty tricky to use.

    Is there a more definite ETA on when this might be?

  • Vicki
    7th July

    The many layout options look lovely, however I have to add my voice to those above about the inability to change font and colour.  From my perspective, Campaign Monitor has taken a big backward step.

    I’m actually pretty surprised that you would choose to switch off such a fundamental branding tool.

    At present I am unable to use Campaign Monitor for new accounts due to being unable to brand their campaigns as required (without building a template from scratch).

  • Paul West
    7th July

    Hey Bhavik, there isn’t a way to center text as such, instead you can select a layout block where the text is centered already.

    Edwin - The song was composed especially for us and isn’t available to the public I’m afraid.

    Simon - Although we don’t have an ETA yet, we are working hard on developing customisation options, I have added your vote, so we can let you know as soon as those options are available.

    Vicki - I have added a vote on your behalf for more customisation options. I’ve also dropped you an email with some options that could help out.

  • James Davidson
    8th July

    Waiting to spend our money with you, as soon as fonts/colours customisation goes live.

  • Al
    8th July

    +1 For the ability to add colours and change fonts, canvas is pretty useless for client work without being able to match brand colours.

  • Fionnuala McIvor
    8th July

    Thanks James and Al - your votes have been added too! We’re actively working on adding color and font customisation options - we’ll keep you posted!

  • Arlo Guthrie
    9th July

    +1 for fonts and colours.

    What would be really helpful, too, is being able to size the content column widths.

  • James Davidson
    9th July

    Please don’t listen to everyone complicating matters with their wish lists - fonts and colours and you’ve got a winning formula :)

  • Laura
    9th July

    +1 for the ability to change fonts and colours

  • alex
    9th July

    You could at least give us a Canvas Template that looks like the original Template Builder template.

    I’m really happy to see CM growing… but from a usability point of view, it’s awful. We all know that kind of software companies that remove features without some full-featured alternatives. :(

  • Pierre
    9th July

    +1 for html + css editing. I need it in other languages and I’m actually not able to translate it.

  • Craig Alexander
    10th July

    Loving the new canvas templates. I am using the Onyx as it oh so very close to how I would code my own email from scratch…if I had the ability to code that is.

    If I could change one thing, it would be for users to have the ability to change the style colour of the different layouts including text and buttons. I also noticed that the email appears very differently from outlook 2007 to 2010.

    Example: With Onyx they cyan blue is piratically the same as my companies colour however when I go to add a different layout style it wants to use a purple colour which makes my emails look like they have a mistake.

    Just my vote.

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    11th July

    Hi everyone, thank you so much for your votes for fonts, colors and the ability to edit source. We have some good updates in the works that should address many of these requests, so we’ll make sure we get the word out on this blog as we get closer to their release. Thanks again for the fabulous feedback, its been incredibly useful to all of us working on Canvas.

    Craig - that’s very curious, I’ll get the team to check that out. Thanks for letting us know and I’ll see what we can do about that strange ol’ Onyx template :D

  • Rebecca Warton
    11th July

    It’s great that you’re actively improving campaign monitor, and as a reseller some of these features are exactly what our clients are after.

    However some of the features are not a improvement - in fact, I’d say some of them were the opposite. You can’t wrap text around images? Text is now massive. No background colour?

    I look forward to seeing canvas continue to improve.

  • Simon
    16th July

    Another Simon (the 4th in this thread - don’t want my vote to not be counted, as a duplicate!) and I think the new Canvas system is really impressive.

    Had a quick play with it the first day the notification email came through and then had a longer proper test a week or so later, but found many of the same issues with colours and styling which prevented me from going further.

    One template was the perfect layout but I didn’t like the font or link styling, another was the perfect colours but wasn’t keen on the layout. One was pretty much perfect, other than the link colours weren’t quite what we wanted, and would look odd compared with the rest of our site.

    Another template, which I think is the same one you used to announce Canvas, has a line at the top with a teaser of the content, but I wasn’t keen on the colour of that or how small the text is and how it spreads wider than the width of the email when the browser/client window is wider, which just looks a bit odd.

    One thing I didn’t realise on the first play was that you can save a pre-canned email with the basic settings configured such as the company address pre-filled - that’s really good (if it does that… I think it does?) as obviously typing that out each and every time we want to send an email is going to be time consuming and is something we’re bound to miss at some stage, hence why it’s hard coded in our current custom templates.

    In summary: A vote from me for the things people have already asked for: control over font face/size and colours, oh and more content block designs, which I know you’ve said you are already planning on including in future!

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    18th July

    Thank you for the detailed feedback - we’d add 10 votes for you if we could! As you mention, there’s a couple of great changes coming our way in regards to Canvas, so definitely keep an eye open for them.

    > One thing I didn’t realise on the first play was that you can save a pre-canned email with the basic settings configured such as the company address pre-filled

    Well spotted - this is correct. If you fill in an address and/or permission reminder when creating template or editing a campaign using Canvas, those details will carry on to any future campaigns created using the same Canvas template. Nice time saver, eh? :)

  • Andy
    22nd July

    Feature request: Ability to update the social icons with custom images. A client uses branded social icons so this would be really useful.

    Also, to add other social icons such as instagram, youtube or pinterest. When there are 4 or more social icons required, Canvas makes it difficult to get them all in.

    Great work as always though :)

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    22nd July

    Thanks, Andy - I’ve noted your feedback on adding more options as far as social sharing goes and will keep you posted on this one. Thanks so much for writing in!

  • James Davidson
    30th July

    Fonts/colours… days, weeks, months… years?

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    30th July

    We don’t have an exact timeline at present, James - but rest assured that we’re currently working on a fair few improvements, that we’ll likely start seeing in the months ahead. Watch this blog and we’ll keep you posted!

  • Pam Gandee
    30th July

    Please could you bring back the old template builder even temporarily. Although visually stunning, none of the Canvas templates are particularly suitable for my B2B and Professional Services Clients. Sorry!

    I have always loved using Campaign Monitor in the past - as it is so easy t create great looking emails.

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    31st July

    Hi Pam, we’re so sorry for the trouble we caused here. While we’re likely going to focus on improving Canvas at this stage, in the interim, you can most certainly export existing templates from the old editor, then customize them using our email editor.

    Sorry for the extra bit of work here, but we can assure you that we’re going to focus on making these Canvas more flexible, so everyone can benefit from them.

  • Sol
    8th August

    Well, I am not going to say “well done” because I think this is not well done at all - it is short sighted and rather negligent to force your customers into using something that is not ready to be used.

    Bring back template builder whilst you are smoothing out all the issues and glitches.

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    8th August

    Hi there Sol, I’m sorry that you’re disappointed by Canvas. Many of our customers have made the switch without trouble; personally, I’m now using it everyday. Could you kindly us know what issues and glitches you’re seeing here? We’re keen to find out how we can improve it for you, so please get in touch with us.

  • Katie
    15th August

    Really?! Still no text-colour options? Disappointing.

  • Stephen Jesson
    15th August

    Hi Katie,

    Thanks for your feedback and sorry to hear you’re disappointed with the current Canvas functionality, however the good news is that we are currently working on adding additional color options, plus the ability to export saved Canvas templates as well, so do keep an eye on our blog at https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/ and hopefully we’ll be able to post an announcement soon :)

    Thanks for your patience in the meantime!

  • Sonal
    4th September

    Hey follks, have been using canvas for a week now for my campaigns. But I really need to add cm_dontconvert to my links. I dont see that option here. Can you please help

  • Stephen Jesson
    4th September

    Hi Sonal,

    Thanks for your question however just to confirm, it’s unfortunately not possible to insert the “cm_dontconvertlink” attribute within Canvas-based campaigns at this time, so apologies for the limitation here, however just to confirm, if you’re concerned about the current client account name appearing within campaign tracking URLs for example, then if you rename the client account within your account, this will be reflected in future campaign tracking URLs as a result.

    Alternatively, you could perhaps set up a custom domain for the client account in question, as per below, which will brand all campaign links to the client’s domain instead.

    Thanks again and hope that helps in the meantime!

  • Saachi
    5th September

    Almost three months since introducing Canvas and we still can’t change basic things like the background color? A step in the right direction but far from the finish line.

  • Mathew Patterson
    5th September

    Thanks Saachi, behind the scenes here we’re several more steps in the right direction, making sure we build something that addresses your needs and does it in a way that maintains all the power and reliability of Canvas.

  • James Davidson
    11th September

    Colours and fonts - even a small choice of each to choose from. Is it really that hard? Three months!

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    11th September

    Hi James, as Mat mentioned earller, we do have some pretty exciting Canvas updates on the horizon. I’m sorry that we’ve all had to wait this long, but we’re putting a lot of effort into making sure they address many of the requests we’ve received so far.

    We’ll keep you updated on the blog as we go, so watch this space!

  • Tobias
    13th September

    Hi everyone, I’m not adding much to the conversion, but just emphasising as one of your customers, that we would love to use this canvas feature. So as soon as we can customise the Fonts, we’re ready to go.

  • Nathaniel Sidwell
    13th September

    Can we download the HTML and CSS of these templates to make slight changes?

  • Carissa Phillips
    13th September

    Hi Nathaniel, thank you for sending in an email in addition to your question here. For the benefit of others, what is possible is to go to Canvas on our site where you can create a Canvas campaign outside of your account (you must not be logged in), and from there you can download the HTML and CSS to make whatever changes you need.

    You’ll need to add in the template tags and then you can import it into your account as a custom template.

    Please note, though, that the template will not be editable within Canvas anymore, however content can still be added using the standard campaign editor. It’s not an ideal solution, but hopefully it will be a workable alternative for many of you.

  • Anna
    14th September

    Hi There,

    How is it possible to include an Instagram icon and link with the other social media icons?

    Thanks

  • Fionnuala McIvor
    15th September

    Hey Anna! I’m afraid it’s not possible at the moment, but I’ve added your vote for this - we’ll keep you posted :)

  • Richard
    15th September

    Hello. This new template system is very disappointing. Great in theory, poor in practice. The lack of editability has made it unuseable for my clients.  We are now back to hand coding emails. Grrr!!!

  • Paul West
    15th September

    Hi Richard, thanks for your feedback here, we really appreciate it. We’re working hard on some customisation options which will make Canvas more powerful and will hopefully work well for your clients. I’ve added a vote for you, so that we can let you know as soon as those are available.

  • Michael
    16th September

    I’m really enjoying the Canvas template option – great work!

    Question: should I be re-sizing images before drag-and-dropping them into Canvas campaigns, or is the resizing being taken care of behind the scenes for me?

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    16th September

    Thanks, Michael - we’re super-glad you’re having an enjoyable time building templates! Just to let you know, Canvas resizes imported images automatically behind the scenes, so you don’t have to worry about this. Let us know if you have any other questions about adding content :)

  • Jamie T
    16th September

    Three months on and still no word about any pending customizing options.

    I think you need to get the whip out on your coders!

    At least give us some idea of what you’re apparently ‘working hard’ on, maybe a blog post?

    It would be good to know whether these new features are even worth waiting for!

  • James Davidson
    17th September

    With Jamie T here, we’ve been holding off making a decision about our next email marketing options for three months - and there’s still no inkling of whether they’re actually doing the simple fixes that could make this product great.

    Getting bored of checking in once a week, think it’s going to be MailChimp for our redesign now…

  • David Greiner
    17th September

    @Jamie and @James, you’re right, we’ve been working super hard on this update and should be keeping you guys in the loop. Check out this post which gives you a sneak big of the big colors and fonts update we’re shooting to have in your hands next month.

  • Jamie T
    17th September

    Thanks David! It’s great to know you’re listening and even better to get to see this sneak peak. Thanks again and keep up the good work, we can’t wait to see it!

  • Gavin
    3rd October

    I’m struggling to find how to download the template and then be able to edit it and add custom html/css and template tags?

    I’ve checked out canvas as both a logged in an logged out user and can preview the template but there is no export or download facility? When I view the source it doesn’t look like usable email html/css which we can then edit and import as a separate template? The one I am interested in altering is Slate…

  • Gavin
    3rd October

    I’ve just found the download link once you’ve created your template…

    Its after Finish and Save button there is a tiny link underneath the popup to ‘save html and css’.

    Thanks!

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    4th October

    Thanks, Gavin - I’m glad you found the link! I hope you send some great-looking campaigns with that template (Slate is my go-to personally).

  • PointB
    7th October

    Seriously… if you haven’t finished it don’t make it live. I understand you are improving the interface and functionality but this has gone backwards in flexibility. I know you’re working hard to have more editable options but until it’s done why make this the only option. Why don’t we have the option to use the old content builder as well? Two steps backwards!

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    8th October

    Hi there PointB, I understand your frustration here - and in retrospect, there are a lot of things we could have done differently around Canvas’ release. At this stage, our fonts and colors update is only a few short weeks out, so we ask that you bear with us - it’s going to be a big improvement for many of our customers and hopefully, you’ll find the wait to be worth it. A huge sorry from all of us here for not making this a smoother transition.

  • OatmealDesign
    21st October

    Hey folks,

    I think canvas is great - however there are 3 frustrations I have with it. 

    1.  The inability to add a full width image over top of an article or 2 columns unless you add it first.

    2.  I would like the logo size to resize to the logo - sometimes that little logo size is just not wide or tall enough for logos with a wider ratio.

    3.  The ability to centre all formats of text - that would be awesome!

    Thanks!

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    21st October

    Hi there Oatmeal, while we won’t be addressing all these things in our next update, I’ve certainly noted your requests here - hopefully after we sort out a few things with text formatting, we’ll take a closer look at what we can do with images. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts here :D

  • Midas
    11th November

    Thanks for working on canvas. Some good steps are being taken, but there are a couple of things that we feel are missing here:

    1. customising spacing. There is a real lack of control over spacing - as OatmealDesign adds above, a header image can’t span multiple columns. This means if you want a header image (or title) and then to split content into multiple columns, you end up with massive areas of white space around images or titles, and no way to control it. This is by far the biggest barrier to us using canvas at the moment.

    2. inability to set background colours for areas of text (only the whole email) - no way to colour a particular box to give is any visual emphasis.

    3. no control over font sizes.

  • Midas
    11th November

    Also, I forgot to add that I’ve tested the mobile versions on Android and it doesn’t seem to be working? (tested on Nexus 4 running Android 4.4.4 using AOSP email client)

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    12th November

    Hi there Midas, thank you so much for these suggestions! Spacing and more flexibility over fonts and colors is something that we may possibly work into an update, so I’ll make sure we take note internally.

    Sadly, Android 4.4.4 (KitKat) no longer supports media queries, thus the issues you’re seeing here. You might want to take a look at the following articles for further details:

    https://www.campaignmonitor.com/forums/topic/7915/android-44-native-email/
    http://blog.listrak.com/post/78649274056/responsive-email-issues-on-android-kitkat-4-4-2-update
    https://litmus.com/community/discussions/112-what-do-you-think-about-android-kitkat-4-4-2

  • Ingrid
    20th November

    I also would love to work on spacing and font sizes. There is a lot of space at the end of my emails before the footers. A LOT!

  • Kaley Payne
    20th May

    Hi there, I too would love to see social media icons added to the sharing options for Canvas. We love the system, but the icons make sharing options stand out more for our readers.

  • opticien skikda
    23rd August

    I wanted to start my own blog and I was looking for your suggestions for which sites you think are the best to start one with. . I want to be able to post pictures, text, and music (maybe).. I only want to use a free blog host..

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