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Adding more colors, images and formatting: why it may not be a good thing

It's not wrong to want pretty things any more than it's wrong to wear outfits entirely made of plaid or to secretly wonder if your German Shepherd might look better with a large pink boa around his neck. (Does he?)

There are plenty of things you can do to add some visual punch to your mailing. You can add images, you can create bold headlines and use color when a bit more style is needed. And the template you're using has already gotten you off to a great design start.

Customize the colors and logo in the templates

Of course, there's always a caveat, and in this case, it is the fact that email is a unique medium that rewards simplicity and structure over complexity and size. After all, your masterpiece, instead of hanging pristinely on a wall or sitting on a controlled webpage, is being pushed out to hundreds or thousands of inboxes that each have their own way of interpreting and displaying your work. That's why in the templates we create for you, and the customization options we provide, we try to make sure your campaigns don't just look good, but that they look good no matter where they end up.

So with that in mind, here are a few tips when it comes to working with images, colors and other elements of mailing style:

Use extra formatting for a reason

Before doubling a font's size, or turning an entire section turquoise, make sure your use of color and size are contributing to the mailing and the message. If you just really really like turquoise, you might ponder the decision a bit longer.

Be consistent with your fonts

Choose from a menu of web-safe fonts.

Remember that design doesn't just mean graphics. It also applies to your mailing's text and how everything looks (and works) together. Use fonts and formats that help reinforce the key points and make your email more readable. Also remember that the editor offers a menu of common web-safe fonts that might seem a bit limited, but it's limited by design -- these are the fonts most people can see, and by using them you're ensuring that the way your mailing looks to you in preview is the way it will look to them when it pops up in their inbox.

Avoid super-sized images

Large images take longer to load and can cause other problems if your mailing becomes too big in terms of file size. So avoid unnecessarily big graphics (40 KB is about as large as any single image should be), and use the image editor to help in the re-sizing effort. A good rule of thumb: the more images you add to a mailing, the smaller each image should be.

Don't let the design overwhelm the message

You've seen them -- emails so cluttered you get dizzy and confused and forget what they were trying to tell you in the first place. So use enough stylings to enhance your message, just make sure they don't distract from it.

If the Style Police would object, so might some Inbox Police

In judging whether or not an email might be junk mail, many filtering programs will consider whether or not the email looks like junk mail. Such programs will award negative points for things like too many images, or lots of large fonts, or lots of words or sentences in RED, or LOTS OF SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS, or somebody going crazy with the exclamation points!!!!! or lots of background colors. Rarely if ever are such infractions alone enough to push a mailing over a filter's spam threshold, but it's still an argument for moderation.

Give your mailing the five-second test

Once you've got your draft ready, send it to yourself. When it arrives, pop it open for five seconds and then close it. Then ask yourself: What was this email about? Later, you might ask yourself: What should we eat for dinner? If the answer is meatloaf, let us know what time to show up and if we can bring wine.

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