Designing for the Inbox

Chapter 1

Does email really need designing?

Every major email client, from Outlook to Gmail to Apple Mail, is set up by default to send in HTML format, and comes with a bunch of tools and options to format HTML. So if the tools to create and format HTML email are so simple and widely accessible, why would you even want to involve a designer in the first place? Isn’t that a bit like your parents demanding a written budget before you buy lunch at the school cafeteria?

In fact, one of the main reasons designers have historically been against the very idea of HTML email is the poor quality of the emails they’re used to seeing. You know exactly what I mean: emails that use every font in the drop-down list, with a heavy preference for Comic Sans in 24pt hot pink. The ones with rainbow backgrounds and little animated cats at the bottom.

“Look how ugly they are!” designers proclaim, and promptly vow to never support HTML email. Unfortunately, in the real world, their valiant stand fails to create a turning point; email software manufacturers won’t take away their users’ cherished fonts and colors. For every designer who refuses to create well-thought-out, appealing emails, there are 24 marketing assistants with access to MicrosoftWord and a massive collection of clip-art CDs. Refusing to design HTML emails doesn’t stop them being sent, it just ensures that they’ll remain hideous eyesores.

So yes, it’s actually important to have design input into emails—at least as far as publication-type emails such as newsletters are concerned. We can all be part of the solution to horrible-looking email, instead of just complaining about it. A well designed email is more readable, attractive, and effective at relaying information.

Designing Plain Text Email

Sign up for free.
Then send campaigns for as little as $9/month

Create an account