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Basic Email Design Rules

I recently had a client in need of an email design. I figured I’d share the basic rules I follow while creating these emails. There are many more rules than the ones listed below, but if you’re new to email design this can get you on the right track.

RULE #1:
Throw everything you know about web design out the window.
Sorry to tell you this, but it’s true. It’s time to relearn the basics.

RULE #2:
I do not recommend using <DIV> tags…ever. You don’t know how the person is opening up the email. Some don’t even allow them, while others may screw up your entire design. Use <TABLE> tags instead. Yup, that old time 90s style of web design.

RULE #3:
Make sure you make the width between 600 – 750 pixels. I tend to use 750 because the designs that I create need something wide.

RULE #4:
Never use the <STYLE> tag in the <HEAD> section.

Class and ids are out. Gone. Don’t exist. Don’t bother. The best thing to do…..long line code. Sucks to be you, I know. Welcome to the club.

Why? Some email clients just get ignore the <HEAD> altogether. Recently, however, I did run into a small situation with Outlook where the styles weren’t lining up correctly. This may happen when you use a merge code (codes that pull information from a database that is being emailed)
For example:

Dear [Name] Your order number is: [order_number]. For [some_product].
Thanks

Which can read:

Dear Mr. Smith
Your order number is: 8675309. For “The Tommy Tutone Album”.
Thanks

In this situation, you will need to use the <STYLE> directly AFTER the <BODY> tag.
**Remember class and id is NOT allowed in emails.

RULE #5:
Make sure that you have a link to an online version of your email. This doesn’t always apply to every email, but it’s a good rule that I tend to follow.

RULE #6:
Make use of the ALT and TITLE. It helps. Spam filters may think you’re doing something crazy without them, especially when you have so many pictures.

RULE #7:
This is a tip that not many people think of – TEXT ONLY FILES!

Be prepared to have some sort of text only version of your email. Some people may not be reading the email with HTML on. If they see a bunch of HTML coding, they may delete an important email. Don’t let this happen. It’s up to you or the person who created the verbiage to create this file for your blaster.

RULE #8:
Get a good email checking software. I use “MailingCheck”. The software goes through your email and makes sure you can get by the spam filters. You can download FREE it at http://www.tucows.com/preview/516813

I hope this helps you out. There are plenty of resources out there to help you even further. Or if you have any questions you can email me rob [at] rwhstudios.com

Thanks for reading!

Rob

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