Does Design Matter for Internal Email Communications?

When’s the last time you opened a beautiful email? Or an interesting one? You don’t need a design degree to know that some pages look better than others.

Although the written content of an email is very important, visual design also plays a critical role in the effectiveness of an email. If you want to engage more employees with your emails, pair thoughtful messaging with intentional design. Here are a few design strategies you can get started with today.

Use white space. When an email is textually dense or visually long, recipients may feel overwhelmed and immediately think, “I don’t have time to read this right now.” And regardless of their best intentions to read it later, they probably won’t.

It’s better to break text blocks up into short paragraphs (with blank lines in between). Use indented bullet lists for any series of points, and use headings with larger fonts to organize different content sections for the reader.

When you add design elements to an email such as images, blocks of color, or buttons, assess how it affects the overall length and readability of the message.

You don’t need to bust out Adobe Photoshop or InDesign to create well-designed emails, although having nice images to work with will help. For email, make simple design decisions using color, typeface, and space.  Canva offers forty-four tips for designing beautiful newsletters; here are four simple strategies to try.

  1. Use different blocks of color to separate distinct content sections.
  2. Use different font sizes to establish a hierarchy of importance.
  3. Go minimal. Canva advises, “A design doesn’t have to have a lot of bells and whistles to be effective, experiment with taking away from your design instead of adding.”
  4. Use graphic icons, photo headers, lines, and shapes to break up big blocks of text.

Focus on your employees. When it comes to design, how can you focus on your employees? Can you incorporate a photo of an employee or a group of employees? Depending on your organization, it may make sense to feature an employee who went above and beyond to accomplish something or spotlight someone who took time off and did something interesting. As you begin to feature more employees in your internal messaging, employees will come to expect (and check for!) these employee features. People are interested in people.

Measure and adapt. Just like copywriting, design is an experiment, to an extent. What works for some audiences and some content, doesn’t work for others. It’s always smart to measure the effectiveness of your internal messaging designs. You can do this by measuring readership and click rates; Use something like a Heatmap report to see which portions of an email are being read and which links are clicked on the most. This type of data will help guide your future design decisions.

When you want to engage your employees with email, try to enhance your messages with simple design decisions, keep content short, use color and typeface, focus on using images of employees, and measure your results so you can adapt. Good design doesn’t need to be complex or time-consuming!

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