Posted 9th July 2010 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

The inevitable welter of emails hits your Inbox at 9am on a Monday morning - which ones do you read (apart from those relating to your work)?

Is it the ones which are in plain text? For some people, that's the touchstone for a successful mail - to be fair, these people are mostly those on slow bandwidth or who have a technological aversion to receiving anything in HTML.
Or, is the ones with pretty pictures? Perhaps. Is it, for example, those with a snappy subject line? Could be. Or those that have been beautifully written, with carefully phrased headlines, concise body copy and an affirmative call to action? Possibly.
My guess is, the ones you read are those that please your eyes in a number of ways and that make an impact. Stylistically, an email is about hitting the reader in a number of ways:
Grab their attention with a subject line that makes them want to open the mail, not bin it
Please their aesthetic sense with a relevant (although not necessarily directly associated) image
Focus their thoughts with a good headline that sums up the whole piece (tricky if you've written lots of articles)
Draw them in with great copy that leads them into ...
... the call to action which makes them want to click
How these elements all combine together is a matter for the designer. This is the person who lays out the content in a way that most benefits the message ... and this is where the DIY sites will lead you well astray. Our offices recently received a mail from a public organisation. This mailing could not be viewed on a single screen - it was too wide. Bearing in mind that we work on hi-res screens here, this mail was, for some reason, eight columns wide. Why? They'd done it themselves and it had gone very wrong. Essentially, they'd thought of it as a folded print newsletter, opened out and sent through email.
Yes. Design does matter. Send a single block of print - no one will read it. Fill it with animated images that are out of line with the text - no one will read it. Make it look anything than superb and, guess what? No one will read it.
Here's to happy designs created by happy people.

Nick from ExtraMile Communications in Eccleshall, Staffordshire

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