Isn’t it a bit strange that your organization probably spend loads of time and money creating beautiful, responsive, innovative emails to potential customers and clients, but completely ignores their employees’ email experience?
Yeah, we think so too.
But there’s a lot more to creating a good employee email design than ‘making it pretty.’ And the stakes are higher than you may think.
Good design is crucial to communication. Without it, you risk clouding your messages or creating cognitive barriers to accessing important information.
Visuals influence human comprehension and decision making more than any other factor. And many studies have confirmed that attractive designs work better to convey complex ideas, influence cognition and decision making, and improve usability.
So if you are neglecting your internal email designs, you could be clouding your messaging and creating obstacles to clear and effective communication.
Good internal email design will make your communications clearer, easier to understand, and more impactful. Attractive employee email designs will also show you are invested in your employees' experience and that you take engagement and communication seriously.
I know what you’re thinking:
But I’m not a designer.
I don’t have time.
I don’t have the tools.
I wouldn’t even know where to start.
Well, have no fear. We’re huge internal email design nerds and in this post we are going to give you a crash course in email design, so you can be confident that the emails you send are beautiful and engaging.
(And if that doesn’t help, we’ll give you a few free HTML templates to get you started.)
And when you master these internal email design best practices, not only will your email designs look better and get your message across more clearly, but you’ll be able to apply them to all other of your other communication channels as well.
Internal Email Design Best Practices
How to choose fonts for your internal emails
The best font choice is the one that readers won’t notice.
If your reader is busy thinking about your font choice, how hard it is to read, or how unique it looks, it is already taking away from your message.
And the fastest way to get someone to stop reading your email is to choose a weird font. Think Comic Sans:
Image Credit: Creative Market
Image Credit: Creative Market
As much *fun* as you may think they are, they are difficult to read and lack professionalism. And they scream outdated design.
Reserve these fonts for your yard sale signs or your kids' school projects on Egypt.
To get a better sense of which fonts are appropriate for internal emails and which will pair well, first you need to know the difference between Serif fonts and Sans Serif fonts.
Image Credit: SHY FONT
A serif is a small line attached to the end of a line in a letter. A font without these little lines is sans serif (which literally translates 'without serif').
Serif fonts often look more traditional and sans serif fonts tend to look more modern.
Canva advises using a sans serif font in your heading and a serif font for your regular text. This is because serif fonts are generally easier to read. They make individual letters more distinct and our brains recognize and process them faster.
But Urban Fonts claims that you should primarily stick to sans serif fonts on the web, including emails. Printed works have 100x the resolution than the average digital screen has, which means serif fonts could be harder to read because they don't appear as clearly. The extra lines end up looking muddy.
Sans serif fonts are therefore your best choice for the body text of your email and will ensure your text is easy to read on any screen.
This should be obvious, but people need to be able to read your font for it to be effective.
Go for simple and conventional--novelty is not your friend when it comes to legibility. Again, if people are thinking about your font choice, you’re doing it wrong.
Look for spacing between the letters--fonts that smush letters together take longer for your brain to untangle and recognize.
Pro tip: The professional term for adjusting the space between a pair of letters is called ‘kerning’.
Complementary Internal Email Fonts
When pairing different fonts, you have to pick fonts that are complementary. Your email will be hard to read or unprofessional looking if your fonts are too similar or clash. Your fonts should be able to coexist without being distracting.
But there are so many fonts to choose from!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize every font type and its pair. Just keep these popular combinations in mind:
You don't need to re-invent the wheel either. Here’s another list of font pairings always look good.
Best Font Size for Internal Emails
Any font choice can go astray if your sizing is off. If your font size is too small, people won’t be able to read it. If your font is too big, it will look weird and make the email super long, especially on mobile devices.
It’s also important to have a noticeable size difference between your header font and your body font to ensure a good hierarchical flow.
Generally, a good header should be between 22-28 px, and body text should be between 14-18 px. Some fonts will still display as different sizes, even if their size in pixels is the same, so use your judgment and make sure it is readable.
Line height is also important to consider so you can avoid overcrowding your text. A good practice is to adjust your line height to around 1.4-1.5 times more than your font size.
Using Color In Your Email Design
If only it were as simple as picking some colors you like and throwing them together.
Youthful and optimistic
Urgent and Energetic
Trustworthy and Secure
Relaxing and natural
Friendly and cheerful
Sentimental and feminine
Powerful and sophisticated
Calming and beautiful
Balanced and simple
But that doesn’t mean your email should use all the colors of the rainbow without discretion. Using too many colors will make your emails hard to read and will look unprofessional.
It’s important that the colors you are using in your email reflect the tone of your content. When done right, your color choices should reinforce the mood you are trying to set.
Email Background colors
Some designers choose just one background color and use it consistently. Others use color to signify changes in sections or content. Either way, you have to make sure the color isn’t overpowering.
Think about the feeling you want to evoke. A lighter brand color or shade works best if you are planning on a single color for the background, while more vibrant colors help break up content in an email.
But remember: just like your font, the background isn’t the focus of the email. Make sure your color choice is readable and not distracting.
Most text in your emails is probably black. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of the time, simplicity is best. Black or a darker color on a light background is the most readable way to present text.
But, if you’re feeling brave and want some eye-catching color, you can experiment by putting headings and subheadings into different complementary colors.
Buttons or Calls to Action
It’s also generally accepted best practice to put your links or calls-to-action (ie. buttons) in contrasting colors to your body text, in order to draw the reader’s attention. You want calls-to-action to pop in your email. They are the only element of your email that should be distracting.
Another fun way to use color in your email body is to switch up the usual blue link color with another color from your brand or chosen palate. This will make links stand out and can look pretty hip.
Image Credit: Piktochart
Choosing complementary colors
If you’re using photos or images in your email, you can try complementing the photos by reflecting their colors in your headers and call-to-actions. This will give you a consistent aesthetic.
Or you can use the color wheel.
Generally speaking, any two colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel pair well.
Colors that are next to each other on the wheel usually go well together too.
And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can combine three colors that are equidistant from each other for a nice contrast.
Pro tip: Use this awesome website to generate an beautiful color scheme.
Making sure your employee emails are visually balanced
Every element in your design has its own weight. As such, some design elements can throw off a good balance.
A balanced design is important because it creates visual unity and is easier for the brain to comprehend. If a design is too distracting or hard to look at, it will take longer for your readers to get the message. They may even miss key elements if their eyes get lost in an unbalanced design.
So how do you balance a design?
First, understand how each element in your design is weighted. For example, a large text box with a dark background or a photo carries more weight than a smaller text box with a white background.
Balancing a design often comes down to instinct. What does the design feel like to you?
Does it feel cluttered?
Is there too much going on on the left side of the page?
Are your eyes being drawn to a particular area and skipping over others?
If you are getting a sense that something is off, you’re probably right. Experiment by moving elements around and seeing how they change your perception of the email.
Alignment is also key to creating a balanced, unified design.
When you’re designing your employee email, imagine there is an invisible grid on the page. Everything in your email should be aligned with at least one other object. When things align clearly, they are easier for our brains to take in and digest.
That being said, these are pretty basic rules. Once you know how they work and master the art of email design, you’ll know how to break the rules in the right ways and be adventurous without creating a design that is too busy or distracting.
Designing internal emails for mobile
You need to consider how your newsletter will be consumed by non-desk or remote workers. If they can’t read it, you’re depriving them of one of your key comms channels.
Designing for mobile or various screen sizes is often referred to as responsive email design.
Responsive email design means that an email will respond to the device it’s viewed on, rather than just showing a smaller version of the desktop email. Responsive design usually includes elements like columns that stack on top of each other in the email, and fonts and images that automatically resize to fit the screen.
If you use a platform like Bananatag, your employee email design will always be responsive, even when you send from Outlook.
If you’re not using an employee comms tool like ours, there are still steps you can take to create more mobile-friendly designs.
- Simplify your layout
- Ensure anything that’s clickable is large enough to touch with your finger on a mobile device
- Consider your image sizes. If people are receiving on mobile, you don’t want super high-resolution images that will take ages to download and use up all their mobile data.
Employee Email Examples and Inspiration
Just because you know the rules and best practices, doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to turn around and create something amazing right away. First, you may need a little inspiration.
Lucky for you there are more examples of beautiful email designs than you will ever have time to look at. (Trust us, we’ve tried.)
Here’s a list of our favorite places to find employee email inspiration:
- 4 Brilliant Examples to Inspire Your Employee Newsletter Design
- Really Good Emails
- 50 of the best email marketing designs
- 13 of the Best Examples of Beautiful Email Design
- 16 Best Email Design Examples
Free Employee Email Templates from Bananatag
We know that internal communicators often feel like they don’t have the time or expertise to design templates themselves. So we’ve created these templates to help make designing your internal newsletter as easy as possible.
Better yet, all of these newsletter templates were created in the Bananatag Employee Email Designer.
Using our simple drag-and-drop interface, it’s possible to create stylish and effective internal comms emails, even if you have no design experience.
Now you have everything you need to design beautiful and engaging internal emails and reinvigorate your email channel. Let us know how it goes by tweeting us @bananatag !