Mobile First Design for Emails

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Mobile Email

With the percentage of people opening emails on mobile devices ever-increasing, it might be time to start thinking about designing your mobile variant first. We’ve put together some statistics and tips to help you make a decision about what’s best for you and your campaigns.

Designing for mobile first is not the same as building a mobile responsive email. Designing for mobile first means focussing on the structure of your email for mobile reading, then adding things into the email for larger devices. Responsive is normally the other way round.

The concept of ‘Mobile First Design’ was brought to light by Luke Wroblewski in 2009 and focusses on designing with smaller screens in mind, then adding more features and content via responsive design for bigger screens.

Mobile email will account for 20% to 75% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type.

– eMailmonday,“the ultimate mobile email stats” (2017)

With this fact in mind, people are more likely to think about its users firstly opening their emails on mobile. So where to start?

You need to think about your constraints, a mobile is much smaller than a desktop so you have less to work with. You should keep the email short so that the reader isn’t scrolling forever, so keep away from those long newsletter type emails. Instead you need to be direct and to the point. If you have lots to say, you are better off sending multiple short emails than a solid long one. People tend to spend 20 seconds at most looking at their inbox before moving on to something else.

The layout of your email will need to be simplified too. Your email should be one column rather than two or more. (Maxemail combats this by stacking your two/three or four column layout into a single column). It makes the email simpler to read on a tiny screen. Sidebars and panels have no place on a mobile as they take up too much space.

Mobile Email
Also be aware of your image sizes. The resolution needs to look good on a mobile screen but you don’t want to kill people’s data plans by using up too much of their roaming data to see an image.

Optimise your links for mobile by making them big enough for someone’s finger to touch. You are better off making large buttons rather than a small hyperlink. Don’t squeeze too much together as this will be irritating for a user to be able to press the right link. A typical adult finger covers 45 pixels, so give this much space for your buttons to avoid the reader miss clicking.

Small text is a no-no for mobile emails. A good rule of thumb is to stick with 14px body text. Readers love to scan text, so this size it good for engagement.

Lastly, as always, check your emails to make sure they work across multiple mobile phones. Also monitor how people are interacting with your emails and adapt your design accordingly.

About Nicola Lush

UX/ UI and Graphic Designer at Emailcenter.