Communisis Email Specialist

By Paul Airy

A shared history

Communisis and I have a few things in common. Firstly, we both have roots in print. Two generations of my family were employed by Waddington’s - commonly known for printing and publishing the board games, Monopoly and Cluedo. I studied ‘Design and Reprographics’, at College, creating graphic designs, and then realising those designs by making plates, mixing ink, and operating presses. Secondly, we both hail from Leeds!

A love of typography

My love of type, typography, and letterforms comes from having these roots, and has remained with me throughout my career, right from the outset, when, at college, I’d lovingly draw each character (the ampersand being a particular favourite of mine), for my designs, or compose metal type for letterpress printing, or see type come to life on an Apple Macintosh computer screen.

Typography in email

The computer screen. Yes. Well, that brings me up to the present, because typography is just as important now, on screen, as it’s always been. Email is a text medium, and therefore typography is quite at home there.

This week, in my workshop, ‘HTML Typography in Email (Advanced)’, at the Email Innovations Summit, Las Vegas, I explored why HTML typography in email is so important, and talked through, and walked through, principles and techniques to empower the attendees, and their respective brands to use it to deliver great email experiences to their recipients.

Some of the things I talked about pulled the past right into the present. The age old typographic em unit, for example, is used in digital typography today, and we still talk about x-heights and leading (though leading’s referred to as line-height).

Some of the things I talked about are timeless. Great design, is great design after all, and using the key elements of text, imagery and space, makes for great emails.

Some of the things I talked about are digital through and through. A typical, and popular example with attendees, being web fonts, which enable brands to add their own personality to an email. So, in my workshop, I demonstrated how to implement a font from the Google Font Library.

Finally, and underpinning all of this, I talked about accessibility, which is such an important consideration, if brands are to be inclusive, and ensure none of their recipients miss out on the communications they’re sending to them.

Type at our fingertips

We, at Communisis, now have all this knowledge, experience and expertise at our fingertips, and are well placed to help our customers, old and new, deliver great email experiences to their recipients. Brands are recognising the importance of email, more than ever, and they want to do it well. So how do they do it well? Here’s a few of the principles and techniques I walked and talked through in my workshop:

  • Always use HTML text for key messaging – it’s guaranteed to be displayed
  • Never rely on images, especially for any calls to action – they may be blocked
  • Make your emails ‘responsive’
  • Understand how an email will look when it ‘responds’ on different screen sizes, and how its content will reflow on each one
  • Understand the challenges and opportunities that each email client, webmail client and app presents
  • Decisions about design, layout and typography, should be informed by the devices, screen sizes, email clients, webmail clients and apps used by recipients, so conduct analysis to find out what they’re using
  • Design and develop your emails, with accessibility in mind.

From Vegas to virtual

This was the fifth time, in four years, I’ve delivered this workshop, and it’s grown in popularity year on year. I’ve delivered it to attendees from a range of sectors, from a range of brands, from American Express to LinkedIn, to The New York Times, though this is the first time I’ve delivered it without stepping out of my front door! Hopefully, next year, I’ll be back in the Silver State again!

Our email products, such as Rapid Comms, are built on some of the principles I’ve mentioned. To hear more from me about Communisis email capabilities, join our Rapid Comms Webinar next week, June 10th at 10am. Follow the link below to register.

Register here: Rapid Comms Webinar


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