Graphic designers have an eye for what looks great. But knowing what looks great and knowing what works great (at least when it comes to email signatures) are two different things. Which is why we want to help steer you in the right direction. When it comes to email signature design, you must be mindful of what not to do, so that you can get the most from your email. Here are five common email signature mistakes that you should avoid.
Don’t do it! It’s a bad idea. Here’s why: Word inserts Office-specific markup tags into your HTML, which doesn’t follow HTML standards. This can cause problems if recipients are not using Outlook (which is quite possible, considering many people use Gmail). Inserting HTML into your email signature can lend it a professional look and feel, but broken HTML has the opposite effect – it makes it look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
The top of your email is not for pretty images. Your designer might want to put your company logo or something eye-catching in the top of your email, but don’t do it. Again, it’s a bad idea. Why? Because this section of your email might be all that readers see in the “preview pane.” And you don’t have a whole lot of room (or a whole lot of time) to convince readers to open your message and scroll down. Put your logo and images beneath the primary message area instead, so you can let your content work for itself.
Designers and developers rely on CSS (cascading style sheets) to specify colors, fonts, and other aspects of a design layout. But it doesn’t work the same way for email clients, and your designer might not have a clue how the email provider handles such code. Typically, designers create an external CSS file (with important layout information) and then link to it from the HTML code. However, since major email clients (such as Outlook) don’t honor CSS in the way that designers are accustomed to, we highly recommend that you code all fonts, colors, and other details in-line. In other words, your designers and developers should specify formatting instructions throughout the email, table cell by table cell, paragraph by paragraph.
One of the most common email signature mistakes is sending emails with broken images. This often is the result of the file type not being supported by an email client. If you are going to insert imagery into your email signature (something we wholeheartedly recommend), stay away from .png files. There are a number of circumstances in which .png images get degraded, resulting in broken or low-resolution images. For reliable, consistent results, stick with .jpg files. You can’t go wrong.
Yes, it’s true that email clients can be a bit particular when it comes to images (this is especially true for mobile email clients). But it’s also true that the majority of email clients support a majority of images (again, it’s best to use .jpg files just to be safe). Imagery can help you capture a reader’s attention, express an idea in a novel way, lend your email a professional look, and provide users with a prominent call-to-action. Not including imagery is one of the most common email signature mistakes, and one we highly discourage. Include images in your emails!