Expanding the brand design system with an email-specific subset is a great way to retain the email channel in the branded design consistency realm. Furthermore, an email design system speeds up email campaign production time too.

When companies thrive to achieve a unified omnichannel look, they often consider ordering the missing pieces from a 3rd party service. Whether we talk about website design or email templates, creating a detailed brief is a must-have.

We help you concentrate on email-related factors that an email-specific design system guide needs when you give the job to a contractor or plan to do it in-house.

What is an email design system?

An email design system is a collection of standardized design elements, such as templates, components, and guidelines, that are used to create consistent and visually appealing email campaigns. Not much different from a/the design system, leveraging from the same principles.

The email design system can be part of a brand’s overall design system but we’ve seen examples when a brand made their email design system first, then they created a full-blown system for the entire digital operations.

What are the key features that should be considered when building/ordering an email design system?

There are some things you need to consider before you choose a service:

1. Responsive Design:

It is essential that the email design system you order or create supports responsive design across all devices, including mobile phones and tablets. This is important because more and more people are using their phones and tablets to access the internet, and you want to make sure that your emails look good and are easy to read on all of these devices. The emails should look great on any device in both portrait and landscape mode, as well as on different screen sizes because email opens shift toward mobile, even in B2B scenarios.

There are several key challenges that you may face when implementing responsive email design:

Limited support for media queries:

While media queries are widely supported in modern web browsers, they are not as well supported in email clients. This means that you may need to use different techniques or hacks to get your media queries to work in different email clients.

Limited support for modern web technologies:

Many email clients do not support modern web technologies such as CSS3 and HTML5, which can make it difficult to implement advanced features in your emails.

The complexity of the email design:

Creating a responsive design can be more complex than creating a fixed-width design, as you need to take into account the wide range of screen sizes and resolutions that your emails may be viewed on. Need to mention here that most email design systems are created on a 600 px base tough. The better ones work on different resolutions, while most of them work only on this 600px gold standard. This can be a good question to ask when buying/ordering your email design system:

Are you ready to create email modules in a wider than 600px width?

2. Accessibility Compliance:

All emails must be accessible to users with disabilities such as color blindness or low vision problems by meeting WCAG 2 level AA accessibility standards for contrast ratios, font size and other elements of your template designs.

WCAG 2 level AA is a set of guidelines for making web content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines cover a wide range of accessibility issues, including visual design elements such as contrast ratios, font sizes, and layout. By meeting these guidelines, email templates and modules can be used by a wider range of people, including those with visual impairments or other disabilities.

It is important to guarantee that email design systems are accessible to all users, as this will help to ensure that the emails can be read and understood by a wider audience. This is particularly important for businesses and organizations that rely on email as a primary means of communication with their customers or stakeholders.
Look for these when you create/order an email design system because implementing accessibility features into the email code is a delicate task for seasoned email coders too.

3 . Cross-Platform Compatibility:

Your email templates need to work seamlessly across multiple platforms like Outlook, Gmail etc., so make sure that your contractor has experience creating compatible HTML code for each platform before ordering an email design system from them.

These email clients are known to have limited support for modern web technologies such as CSS3 and HTML5. While they have a relatively high market share, developing an email design system in mind of these can cause trouble.

Gmail:

One of the most popular email clients with a large market share. While Gmail has improved its support for modern web technologies in recent years, it still has some limitations. For example, it does not support the CSS calc() function or the vh and vw units.

Outlook:

A popular email client, particularly in business settings. Outlook has traditionally had poor support for modern web technologies, and it can be challenging to get advanced features to work in this email client.

Yahoo Mail:

Has a smaller market share than Gmail and Outlook, but is still used by a significant number of people. Has limited support for modern web technologies, and it can be challenging to get advanced features to work in this email client.

AOL Mail:

Has a relatively small market share compared to other email clients. Has limited support for modern web technologies, and it can be challenging to get advanced features to work in this email client.

It is important to keep in mind that email clients are constantly updating and improving their support for modern web technologies, so it is always a good idea to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and to test your emails thoroughly to ensure that they look and function as intended.

4 . Email Design System Customization Possibilities:

You want a flexible solution which allows customizing colors, fonts, images & content blocks according to brand guidelines without compromising the user experience or technical performance of the template designs.

One of the key customization possibilities of an email design system is the ability to adjust the colors, fonts, images, and content blocks to match the brand guidelines of the company or organization. This helps create a cohesive and cohesive look and feel for the emails, which can be important for building trust and credibility with recipients.
This helps create a cohesive and cohesive look and feel for the emails, which can be important for building trust and credibility with recipients.

It’s crucial to ensure that customizing the email design system does not negatively impact the user experience or the technical performance of the templates.

This means that the design and layout of the emails should remain clear and easy to read, and the templates should be optimized for use on different devices and email clients. Overall, a flexible email design system that allows for customization while maintaining user experience and technical performance can be a valuable asset for any company or organization.

5 . Email marketing Automation Support of email design systems:

Support for email design systems in email marketing automation is important because it ensures that the emails you send are well-designed and visually appealing. When an email design system is integrated with an email marketing automation tool, it can be used to create dynamic modules that can be customized and personalized for different audiences or campaigns. This can help to increase the deliverability rate of your emails and save time when setting up campaigns.

However, it is important that the contracted email design system architect understands how email marketing automation works, as they need to be able to create dynamic modules that are compatible with the automation tool being used. This will ensure that the emails are sent and tracked correctly and that the automation campaigns run smoothly.

For example, Marketo offers a range of automation features that can be used to target and personalize email campaigns based on customer data and behavior.

Once you have created your dynamic modules and set up your email campaigns, you can use Marketo’s automation tools to send and track your emails. Marketo provides detailed reporting and analytics on email performance, including metrics like open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate, so you can measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns and make improvements as needed.

Something similar also works with MailChimp, Constant Contact, Drip, Klaviyo, ActiveCampaign, and many more tools.

6. Email Testing Capabilities

Testing your emails on all of the different devices and email clients that they may be viewed on can be time-consuming and may require the use of specialized testing tools.

Despite these challenges, it is still important to implement responsive design in your emails, as it will ensure that your emails look great and are easy to read on all devices.

To implement responsive design in an email, you can use media queries and flexible layout techniques. Media queries allow you to specify different styles for different screen sizes, and flexible layout techniques allow you to create a layout that adjusts to the size of the screen. By using these techniques, you can ensure that your emails look great on any device.

Email testing is a must-have feature in any good mailer service provider; make sure they have tools available like A/B testing, spam score checkers, etc., so you can test out various versions of emails before launching them into production.

We especially love how an email design system can help with A/B testing campaigns by providing a consistent foundation for creating and testing different versions of an email.

You know that A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two versions of an email to see which one performs better in terms of a specific goal, such as click-through rate or conversion rate.

By using an email design system, you can ensure that the basic elements of the email, such as the layout, branding, and tone, are consistent across all versions being tested. This makes it easier to focus on making specific changes, such as the subject line, call-to-action, or content, to see how these changes affect the performance of the email.

Using an email design system can also help ensure that the technical performance of the emails being tested is consistent. This can be important for ensuring that the results of the A/B test are accurate and reliable, as technical issues with the email could potentially impact its performance.

Overall, an email design system can provide a valuable framework for A/B testing campaigns, helping to ensure that the emails being tested are consistent and technically sound, which can make it easier to identify the factors that contribute to the success of an email marketing campaign.

+1 Cost = Where to order an email design system?

Email design system creation outsourcing choices

There are several options for outsourcing the creation of an email design system. Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your budget, time constraints, and specific needs. It may be helpful to gather proposals from a few different options and compare them before making a decision.

Freelance designers / Freelance email coders = #EmailGeeks

You can hire a freelance designer on a project-by-project basis to create your email design system. This can be a cost-effective option, but it may be more time-consuming to coordinate with multiple freelancers and ensure that they are following the same design guidelines.

Design agencies / Email template services

Another option is to work with a design agency that specializes in email design. These agencies typically have a team of designers who can work together to create a cohesive design system for your emails.

You need to split the design templates they delivered into modules. Also, when you need changes in your email designs (smaller or bigger) you need to pay for them again (and again, and again). Also, you need to wait for those changes/additions to be implemented.

These vendors can help you create a custom email design system for your business, or provide guidance on how to implement an existing system. It is best to contact these vendors directly to learn more about their specific services and to get an accurate estimate for your project.

ZURB –  A design and consulting firm that offers email design and development services.
Freshinbox – A digital design agency that specializes in creating email designs.
Email Monks  – A full-service email design and development agency.
Email Design – A small agency that focuses on creating visually appealing email designs.
Email Uplers – A design and development agency that specialized in creating responsive email designs.
Campaign Creators – An email design agency that offers a range of services including template design, coding, and testing.
Email on Acid – A design and testing agency that offers a range of services including email design and spam testing.
Email Design Workshop – A design agency that offers email design training as well as design services.
Email Inspiration – A design agency that specialized in creating visually appealing email designs.
Antwort – A design agency that focuses on creating responsive, mobile-friendly email designs.

Email marketing platforms

Some email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor, offer design services as part of their offering. These services may include the creation of email templates and design systems.

In-house design team

If your organization has the resources, you may choose to create an in-house design team to handle the creation of your email design system. This can be a more expensive option, but it may allow for more control and faster turnaround times.

None of the above is an ideal solution tough, since they all lack some key elements of a good email design system: flexibility, cost-effectiveness, expertise, and brand-control.

Email Builder tool’s service team

An email builder tool is software that allows users to create and design email templates without requiring advanced coding knowledge. Email builder tools typically include a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, pre-designed templates and elements, and options for customizing the look and feel of the email.

An email builder tool can be used to create email templates that follow the guidelines of an email design system. For example, a user might start with a pre-designed email template in the email builder tool, and then use the customization options to apply the color palette and typography specified in the email design system. In this way, the email builder tool and the email design system can work together to help users create professional, cohesive emails that align with their brand.

Email builder tools offering an email design system setup service with the ability to connect the email design system directly to your email service provider:

Wrapping up: Look for these when ordering/creating an email design system

Compatibility with your email service provider: It’s important to ensure that the email design system is compatible with your email service provider, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
Ease of use: You’ll want a system that is easy to use and intuitive, so you can quickly and easily create professional-looking emails.
Responsive design: With more and more people accessing emails on their mobile devices, it’s important to have a design system that creates responsive emails that look great on any device.
Customization options: Look for a system that allows you to customize the design of your emails to match your brand and style.
Integration with other marketing tools: If you use other marketing tools, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) system or a marketing automation platform, it can be helpful to choose a design system that integrates with these tools.
Price: Consider your budget and choose a design system that fits your needs and your price range.
Customer support: It’s always a good idea to choose a design system that offers good customer support in case you have any questions or run into any issues.