6 Do's and Don'ts for Eye-Catching Email Design

Get the details on the best practices and most common mistakes when it comes to designing awesome newsletters.

Jay Perlman

Well-designed newsletters are like a bottle of fine champagne: people can't wait to pop them open. Bubbly comparisons in mind, newsletters and emails have been one of the most effective ways to connect with customers and loved ones since the internet was invented, and with each passing year, the standard rises on what it takes to make a well-designed email.

Yet while emails are one of the most powerful and intimate ways to connect with friends, family, users, and potential customers, even the most experienced email marketing junkies get creative blockage trying to make a newsletter that hits those oh-so-satisfying metrics.

Lucky for us, we have an ace up our sleeve when it comes to awesome email design, and that's our resident guru Gaby Araujo. Having created thousands of successful emails of all sorts, Gaby knows what it takes to make emails that consistently bring flair and value to an otherwise dull inbox.

We decided it was a bright idea to sit down with this newsletter ninja to discuss the secret sauce to her email design, and how you can use these pointers to elevate your own newsletter game! She also unveiled some common pitfalls to avoid, plus loaded us up with some of her favorite examples of mega-dope newsletters that you can use for inspiration on your next project.

But before we dive in...

A Few More Facts about Emails & Newsletters

While newsletters and emails are an old school marketing technique, there are no signs of them disappearing as an extremely effective channel for reaching TONS of users.

How many tons of users you ask? Try 3.9 billion email users alone in 2019, and this number is only set to increase in the upcoming years!

But that's not the only staggering number associated with newsletters. According to data collected from Emarsys and DMA, both small and big businesses reported insane ROIs in 2019, a staggering number of $42 to every $1 spent.

Yeah, we had to pick our jaws up off the floor after we read that one...What's more is that the list of crazy statistics goes on and on!

The reality is that while email and newsletter design is constantly evolving, it is and will be a verifiable powerful way to connect with users and enhance their experience with your message.

Now, let's just jump back to the Gaby's do's and don'ts of creating emails that A) don't suck, B) get the desired outcomes you're looking for, and C) look freakin' awesome!

Designing Dynamite Newsletters

While a lot of newsletter and email design is about creative innovation and experimentation, there are some elements of quality newsletter design that have stayed consistent over time.

Gaby, who has years of experience creating emails that excel in terms of being visually stunning and providing delight, gave me the lowdown on the most important steps to take, and the not so obvious design traps to avoid.

Do: Maintain brand consistency

Gaby was very clear about hammering this point home: Brand consistency is CRUCIAL!

There should be no doubt in the recipients minds of who the email is from, even if there was no logo or name included in the newsletter. Visuals, copy, content, and messaging should be noticeably yours to the recipients from the moment they read the subject line.

Here is a great example of brand consistency that Gaby broke down, "If your webpage has blue CTAs on it, do your best to stick to the same type of colors. The same goes for typography: If you have one type of font that you use for your brand, stick with that one in your newsletters".

Here are a couple of aspects of a newsletter that you should ensure are consistently on brand:

  • Font and typography
  • Templates
  • Colors
  • Formats
  • Image dimensions
  • Banner dimensions
  • Illustrations (obvi)

Consistency with newsletters will help engrain your brand into the viewer's mind, and give them reliable and enjoyable content!

Don't: Change Your Templates Constantly!

We hate suggesting tamping down creativity, but in the case of emails and newsletters, sometimes sticking with what works is the way to go. This is definitely the case with staying consistent with templates.

Trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to templates lead to confusion and missed opportunities for hitting metrics. Being overly ambitious with email design can also seem chaotic, and it often goes against the principle of keeping your aesthetics constant for branding purposes.

Of course, this is most definitely not an attempt to clip your creative wings! Rather, think of staying creative within a consistent framework of your templates. In the end, you'll be saving tons of time by accelerating your workflow, and building upon that ever so important brand consistency.

Do: Break up content

A big striking image sometime is the bee's knees when it comes to marketing. Other times, however, breaking up your newsletter content is a safer and more aesthetically pleasing strategy.

This is how Gaby broke it down, "People who are reading newsletters want something to follow; an email that has an appealing flow of content. Readability and view-ability drastically improves when content is broken up. Headings, bullets and sections are a fantastic way to achieve this."

Gaby is echoing what other experts say: instead of one mass block of content, give your recipients the option of investigating multiple parts of your newsletter design.

Breaking up the content also creates a hierarchy and structure to the newsletter, which also adds to readability interactiveness. Two of the techniques in Gaby's toolkit for achieving this is by employing the pyramid format or the zig zag format:

Zigzag and pyramid format for email design
Zigzag and pyramid format for email design

These structures are a proven way to create a dynamic flow to the newsletter content.

Don't: Use giant all-image newsletters

If there is one thing that you should absolutely avoid is the giant, bulky, heavy, all-image emails. While these conceptually may seem aesthetically pleasing, often times they end up being a big blank email with nothing to see.

Gaby was quick to point out that there are several problems with heavy files and all-image emails. Aside from the possibility of eating up data from a potential client, they're often very slow loading, lacking in continuity, and just overall a less pleasing user experience.

Lastly, is there anything worse than opening an email and the image is stretched out giant mess without any structure? Nah... that is pretty darn unpleasant!

Do: Put the most important information "above the fold"

The majority of people reading emails within 10-15 seconds, so pretty freakin fast. That's why you want to put the most important content and information at the top of the newsletter, or above the fold.

Above the fold means that the most important information is the at the top of the newsletter so the viewer doesn't need to scroll. As soon as they open the newsletter, they should quickly and easily be able to digest the content and information.

Don't: Forget the visuals!

While all-image emails are a newsletter design you should avoid, that definitely does not mean you should skimp on the visuals! Here, within the banner dimensions and format, is the place to unleash your creativity.

Creating compositions with customizable illustrations are always a great choice for dope-looking banner, but while chatting with Gaby, she covered some cool ways that people can change things up visually, "dynamic content is a great way to make your newsletter standout. Doodles, photos, and GIFs bring a visual spark that an email often needs."

Top Newsletter Design Inspiration

Inspiration is key for creating an awesome newsletter! There are tons of examples of dope newsletters that you can use to spur the creativity on your own email design.

Here are some of the dopest newsletter examples we found out in the wild.

1. RESY

From a loud, clear message that is conveniently above the fold, broken up content is a beautiful hierarchy, and featuring cute and catchy illustrations, this newsletter from RESY hits the mark.

2. Jeni's

This is an ideal example of content in the pyramid structure. Each section has value for the reader! It is also clearly on-brand.

3. Headspace

Pitch does a great job of employing the zigzag method. It's also a very readable email that has quick facts that are easily digested. Also a wonderful use of color pop!

Still looking for email design inspiration? Gaby's go-to for email inspiration isĀ Really Good Emails.

Free Newsletter Design Templates

We're here for you, like a doodle-y best bud who always has your back! And best buds never ever leave their friends without a super-cool template with customizable Blush illustrations for your own incredible newsletter creations!

And of course, as always, don't forget to tweet us with your stupendous newsletter designs!

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