User Communication – Effective Email Newsletter Design Principle

Over the years, emails have become the most convenient and easy-to-manage way to convey things to your users. While, there are tons of services that let one manage newsletters and email campaigns, the bigger problem is the email standards. Web designers and developers know the problem of making an email newsletter work in all the different email clients (online and desktop) is way more difficult than making a website work seamlessly across all platforms and browsers. However, this problem is still largely overlooked, and forms the basis of those image-only newsletters that one sees so often.

A few of the more important points to note while sending out your email newsletters:

  • Emails are not web-pages
    Tables were/are evil when abused on a website. Divs are the evil ones in an email. “table-layout” and “border-collapse” are the two things that work on 99% of the email clients, and are the de-facto standard to base out your email
  • Minimize the number of images
    While for some newsletters (like some design company), it would make sense to have a lot of fancy images in emails; it is good to have fewer images and stress more on the content. Images are blocked by most of the email clients to load immediately. Also, it is a good idea to have a copy of your newsletter on your website for future reference, for the fact that newsletters can be opened at any time of the future, and so it should not look awkward with your images missing somehow. For example, cleartrip is a very good example of sending to-the-point beautiful emails, with no fuss
  • Gmail is(not) a standard
    “If it works in gmail, it works in every other client”. Gmail is the toughest nut to crack for emails, since it strips off all your html selectors, and your styles don’t work if they are not inline. Making sure everything works in gmail, is the biggest hurdle conquered.
  • Styles are good, not the stylesheets
    1. Avoid external stylesheets – they might load in some cases, but not guaranteed to work every time.
    2. Style definitions do not go in the head of your html email, but start off in the body.
    3. Inline styles are the safest bet to make your html emails look at their best and also function as you imagined
  • Perform the ACID test before sending out the newsletter
    E-mail standards
    are not new, but they are gaining traction now. The email standards project, gives you the lowdown on designing the perfect newsletter that looks good and works even better. Whether you are designing that image intensive newsletter or the simple text based one, following email standards gives you the edge over your competitors in your email usefulness, readability and effectiveness throughout the spectrum of email clients

For the tech-savvy, an in-depth reading and explanations can be found at the Email Standards project and the complete guide for css support in emails.

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