An Email Designer’s 3 Mobile-Friendly Rules

We told you about the new mobile responsive templates we released. They make your emails look AWesome everywhere instantly without any extra work from you.

But there are still a few things you should keep in mind for your mobile email readers. Your email might look good on mobile, but is it readable?

We talked to Julie Jarrett, one of our in-house designers (who actually designed the new templates just for you!), and got some tips from her for how to make your mobile emails readable everywhere.

1. Embrace Brevity

“Keep the message brief,” Julie says, “because your reader is most likely on the go.”

Think about it. You’re out with friends, or at an event, or walking around downtown. You get an email notification on your phone. How long are you going to stop and read it for? Probably not very long.

Get your message across in as few words as possible so your readers know what’s going on when they don’t have time to read a whole email.

Exhibit A: Good For Mobile

I can read all I need to know in one glance: sale, free shipping, 12 hours. Done.
1800 flowers email

Exhibit B: Bad For Mobile

This could be very interesting, but I don’t have the time – or perfect vision – to read all this.
farmers almanac email

2. Banish Paragraphs

This pairs with Julie’s first tip. Keeping your message brief is easy if you have a strong visual to share in place of text.

But what if your message depends on text? “Break up paragraphs into bullet points instead,” Julie recommends. “They’re faster to read than a paragraph.”

Bullets set the key points apart to highlight them, as in Exhibit C here:

Exhibit C: Necessary Info Is Showcased

ancestry email

Exhibit D: Important Points Are Obscured

snapfish email

3. Don’t Crowd Out Content With Columns

Julie’s third tip: “Avoid using columns.” While columns keep your information neat and structured on desktop, “the information might end up squished on mobile.”

What does this look like? Here’s an email that uses a sidebar column. Take a look at the desktop vs. mobile versions.

Exhibit E: Email On A Desktop

thin sidebar

Everything’s where it should be: the sidebar is thin, letting the text take center stage.

Exhibit F: The Same Email On Mobile

squished sidebar

The sidebar takes over! The text gets “squished” over into a thinner column on the left when the email re-sizes itself to fit the smaller screen. It’s harder to read and requires more scrolling.

If you have social or navigation links in a sidebar (like the example above), try moving them to your header or footer instead so you don’t crowd out your main message.

What’s Your Take On Mobile Email?

Got any mobile design tips of your own to share? What makes a good mobile email to you? Share in the comments!

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3 Comments

  1. Awesome informative article thanks for share.

    1/23/2014 12:26 pm
  2. As i was reading the whole posts, there’s a word that keeps running in my head, and that is – Mobile. As the word speak for itself, mobile (quoting from your first point) describes those who are always on-the-go. A great reminder to every email designer to make contents everything short, brief, and easy to access, for the convenience of everyone who surf the web or checks their email on their mobile devices. Thanks for this great insight Rebekah! Looking forward for more of your informative posts! =D

    1/27/2014 5:21 am
  3. Now that’s something new. I never knew that brevity is just an important in mobile. Maybe it is because I somehow enjoy reading e-books. But that’s just me I guess. Others would prefer shorter paragraphs.

    2/2/2014 9:48 pm

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