Signing off in style: Email designs that work for you

When the first web pages appeared over 20 years ago, many of them had garish designs. Web developers loved to try out all the different design elements at their disposal. Dozens of fonts, flashing text, lots of colours, animated images… in fact early websites looked pretty awful.

But nobody cared because the medium was new. Luckily, web designers soon took over and brought style and elegance to the web. Today it’s unusual to see badly designed business websites.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said of emails. The ability to send HTML emails has been around for almost as long as the web. Yet good email design is the exception, not the rule.

Companies spend small fortunes on corporate branding, yet forget about this major communications channel. Sometimes they tack on a few icons for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, add a low-resolution company logo, and leave it at that.

So it’s common to see badly designed and badly formatted emails. Sometimes the HTML is broken and doesn’t display properly. Sometimes it doesn’t fit on the screens of mobile devices. And often the design is just plain ugly.

This is unprofessional, and reflects badly on the company sending the emails. So here are some ideas for better email design.

Be consistent across all platforms

Before you start, think about how your outgoing company emails are sent. Some will be sent from your employees’ desktop computers, others from newsletter mail servers. Some will come from your sales team’s laptops, others from mobile phones or tablets. How are you going to send well formatted, consistently designed emails from every device?

You could ask your IT team to do it, but that would be a lot of work. Ideally you should outsource this instead. Ask an email signature management company to help. They’ll apply the same consistent signature and branding to every outgoing email – regardless which device was used to send it.

Get a designer involved

You have a designer for your website, and probably also for some of your marketing material. So ask one to help design your email templates. The body of the text may not need much formatting, but the signature area represents your corporate branding.

Make sure the design looks good, and keep it light. You don’t need lots of graphics and different fonts. The design should complement the body text of the email – not overwhelm it.

Create valid emails

Email clients are pretty good at handling broken email formatting. But it doesn’t hurt to check that the HTML in your emails is valid. Again, you could ask your IT team to do this. But if you use an email signature management company, they’ll check it for you as part of the service.

View your design on different devices

Send a few sample emails to your own email address. Do they look good? More importantly, do they look good everywhere? Your emails might look elegant and professional on your laptop. But that doesn’t mean they’ll also look good on a smartphone. Test lots of different devices, including iPhone, Android phone, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

Email signature management companies can help here. They’re experienced in managing email presentation across a wide range of different devices.

Invest in good presentation

It’s one of the most successful marketing channels. Yet email is often a forgotten part of corporate communications – and it shows. Companies that don’t make any effort with their email designs do themselves no favours. Their messages look unprofessional and inconsistent.

Just a small investment can make a big difference. Good design and consistency across devices are vital. That’s how you get better brand awareness and greater perception of professionalism. Email signature management companies charge as little as a dollar per user per month. So this is one business decision that’s easy to make.

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