Designing emails is hard. On the surface, one would think it’s like designing a small webpage, or a digital flyer. But the reality is much more complicated. Designing emails that consistently render on multiple platforms, show proper branding and tone, and do the previous two across multiple business channels can be a daunting task without the proper tools. That’s where an email design system comes in. This type of system is basically a hybrid of a brand guideline, a template archive, and a collection instruction manuals. It allows multiple teams to keep email design consistent and functional, while allowing for more rapid growth and adaptability as brands change and evolve. Let’s go through each of these three section to show how it helps with emails, and then how they tie together in the end.
Just because a company has brand guidelines doesn’t necessarily mean their emails will look visually similar. If multiple sections of the company are sending out emails, they may not communicate with one another on design aspects like logo placement, button design, and banner images. So while they may use the company approved font and logos, the emails still look inconsistent across different channels. An email design system helps keep multiple designers and developers informed on proper design practices, creating a unified style across many different email campaigns.
A common design practice for emails is to just grab an old email and update information and images. And while this can work for a while, it restricts creative freedom and runs the risk of using outdated templates for campaigns. An email design system maintains an up to date library of approved template, buttons, modules, and design elements that both designers and developers can use to create beautiful, up to date emails. Making sure each asset matches brand guidelines, as well as functions and renders on all platforms will ensure each outgoing email is always approved.
Lastly, keeping an in depth and current documentation of any changes, updates, and instruction on emails is a crucial component of an email design system that ensures everyone across the company can stay aware of the best practices for emails at any time. Communicating between teams and making sure everyone learns and understands each new addition and change to the system will eliminate any confusion.
All three of these aspects work in harmony to support one another. The good news is you can start small. A simple google docs page of some instructions and a few visual assets is great start to start to centralize your email design process and a get system in place. Consistent effort and communication will continue to build this system up, and create a streamlined process for email creation that can grow and thrive.