All About Email - The Last Word in Email Publishing

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Images and the Design Compromise

The need to render properly in different browsers; image blocking; image to text ratios; file size limitations; font and colour protocols - these are all factors in successful email design.

Pretty pictures do not work - unless they form no more than about 20 percent of an email, alongside plain and rich text.

Designers must learn to compromise on aesthetic appeal in order to increase functionality - deliverability, preview pane impact, and image blocked impact.

Image blocking is on the increase; it is estimated that 40% of NZ recipients have images blocked, so if your email is one big Jpeg, or has a large screenwidth banner image, then it will not render well in the preview pane. Browsers such as Gmail allow users to permanently enable images from trusted senders, but first you must become a trusted sender.

So if you want to communicate with 100% of your audience rather than 60%, then cut back on the headline banners - share the top spot with text headlines and semi screen width banners.

Alt text is important, although this may change with some latest browsers disabling this as well. Alt text sits behind an image in email - if the image is blocked, the Alt Text appears, so give careful thought to what you put there.

Why not drop images altogether? Just send plain text emails? Because you would be catering for the minority. 60% will still see your images, and they do increase impact, and reinforce branding.

So remember, email is a unique medium with it's own set of rules. It is not web design, and unless you recognise that, your audience will suffer.

Keep your images small and relevant - complementing text in the body of the message.

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