There are so many things that you really need to take care of when creating a custom email template. I’ll just discuss the most important topics on this page. Some of the items in the list below are also covered in email template design, but I’ll mention them anyway. Besides, on this page we look at email templates from a different point of view: we don’t focus on style alone, we also deal with the content aspect of your email template.
Make sure images support text
Using images is a great way to improve the general look and feel of your email template. Many email clients however, don’t show images by default. This means that your template is going to show a lot of whitespace. Therefore, the text in your email should be leading. The text in your email is the only aspect of your email that will definitely show up on your recipients’ screen.
Make sure your email template is no wider than 600px
Horizontal scrolling is a definite no go. So you want to make absolutely sure that your template fits the preview pane of your recipient’s email client. By setting the maximum width of your email template to 600px, you should be safe for most computer screen configurations.
Create flexibility into your custom email template
Maybe the most important aspect of your email template is that it’s flexible. Sure, you want every issue to look like the previous ones so people will recognize your brand. That’s just the style though. Branding doesn’t mean you can’t vary the layout of your content. Therefore, you need to make sure that you can vary the size and position of your images and you can add or leave out content sections as you please.
Make sure to include an unsubscribe link where people expect it
Offering an unsubscribe link at the very top of your email may be very courteous, but people expect these links to be at the bottom of an email. That’s why you should really put your unsubscribe link all the way down there.
Don’t use background images
Background images look great on websites and flyers. They look great in email templates as well, but most email clients don’t display them – so don’t rely on background images for your email design. When it comes to emails, background images are just dead weight.
Don’t use gradients unless they’re part of a required image
Gradients require images. Images don’t show up by default. So just use a plain background color instead. It’s that simple.
For all you hardcore frontend developers out there: yes, CSS3 enables us to create background gradients without actually using images, but this technique is not supported by Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and – surprise surprise – Microsoft Outlook. Thunderbird knows its stuff, so it’ll render your background gradient flawlessly. I agree, more people should be using Thunderbird, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t. In conclusion: don’t use gradients unless they’re part of a required image.