I’ve mentioned on several occasions that websites should be steadily improved over time, rather than leaving everything to a once-in-ten-years “redesign”. But if there are reasons for neglecting this, there are no such excuses with your marketing emails. It’s so straightforward to change the look and feel of an email, that crowbarring text into a functionally obsolete design is inexcusable. The transfer of email reading from desktop to mobile device over the past few years has been so dramatic that surely nobody can still be sending out emails which are hard to read on a small screen, right?
Wrong. I’ve received two howlers already today, where I’m presented with an email laid out like a fixed web page, which the email reader on my smartphone can do nothing with except display as a full-width page, shrunk down to fit. So the text is way too small to read, and if I zoom in, I’d have to scroll across each line and back again if I really wanted to read it. Having ascertained that the emails weren’t from the taxman, I chose to ignore them.
If you use a decent email distribution service, the chances are that they provide a system like Litmus which will test your email design in different devices. Even if you don’t go to that effort, at least give your emails a chance by opting for the simplest possible design. Nobody wants multiple column designs trying to mimic magazine pages – they really don’t add anything to the user experience except frustration. Keep it simple.