Why thinking about your Email Design System's usability is important, and how to make it the best you can.

An Email Design System isn't just about the HTML used to build it. It's about the editing experience for users, many of whom might not be email specialists (such as content marketers). Tailoring your Email Design System to the needs and ways your team works will speed up email production and make it accessible for all to use. You'll get:

  • Consistently great email that's easier for everyone to create as a result.
  • Email at a larger scale with much lower risk of anything going wrong.
  • Less QA time to plan into your workflow.
  • Less steps in your overall workflow, meaning quicker creation times.
  • More creative email with a confident team.

All from providing a strong user experience - but what exactly is that? As a designer of an Email Design System, it's about building a world where everyone can work and collaborate with confidence that they can create email as easily as possible whilst avoiding mistakes. For you as the 'coder', you don't have to update multiple HTML files or go searching for them. Since everything is in one place, you get more time back to maintain and improve your Email Design System.

Great user experiences means you can open up making email to everyone. From the experts who use it day-in-day out, to those who know more about the content and less about email - they can still build great email because your Email Design System is straightforward and intuitive.

As a designer, you also get to communicate your intent. What can/can't be changed, how it can be changed, and why it has been changed, is all communicated by the design of the user experience. Defining your brand colours and fonts, or providing a set of modules to choose from, is the designer's way of communicating brand guidelines and ensuring consistency without all the extra documentation.

Key points for a good email editing experience

Here are a few considerations, and benefits, to keep in mind when creating a good email editing experience:

  • It needs to be easy to understand and intuitive to use - by removing any confusing and bloated aspects of your Email Design System (such as a large library of modules with many versions), you make creating and editing email much clearer and it gives users the confidence to make email every day.
  • By having everything in one place, you'll have one consistent code, with all branding included, which is easier to maintain, so in turn will prevent errors from being made.
  • It's a simple way of communicating the designer's intent - and ensures all designs are on brand at every send.
  • It should transform your workflow. At Litmus Live in 2020, our own Technical Success Manager Paris Fisher spoke about this. One thought hit home:

Paris Fisher

Technical Success Team Manager

Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting the same result, will get you nowhere

Making a great editing experience changes this up. It enables a transfer of knowledge between the people who know everything (like the HTML developer) to those that may not (the user). That means, as the designer/developer/coder, you aren't having to explain areas or make changes halfway through your process. The back and forth that delays workflows is eradicated by this knowledge transfer. The workflow process is therefore smoother and quicker, as everyone is aware of your intent and knows what they need to do, and can do.

  • Having just one HTML that contains all possible modules you could need for any type of email you create means creating seasonal or one-off campaigns can be done with ease and still all come from the same code.
  • It should empower your users to make great email - and also help guide your users by adding hints such as character limits

So how do you make sure you include these ideas in the final product? Well - planning and communication is key.

Understand your users and your email strategy

The planning stage of your Email Design System is where you can tailor it to the needs of your team and your business goals. To achieve this, you will need to know how it will be used, and what for. Having this knowledge is really important to providing an effective editing experience. 

  • Consider the levels of email editing skill of those using it. If they are experienced and comfortable with making more advanced email, you can design your Email Design System around their level - making it more complex and with more options. However if you work with a team that is being trained up, or not as knowledgeable about making email, they may need a simpler setup. Making the editing experience logical and easy to understand means that you can provide more options with added complexities without restricting who can use it.  
  • Think about how team members will be interacting with the Email Design System. Some will use it daily and extensively, so making it easy to understand will help speed up their process. Others will dip in and out of it to make quick changes. And others will want to use it to make email quickly and not have to make design decisions. They require a system that is very easy to understand and logical to quickly figure out for their own needs, and helps them create email with the least amount of steps possible.
  • Look at what your users, and the business, are trying to achieve strategically with their email marketing. A strategy that relies on fewer, but beautifully designed emails is going to need a different set of modules to that which requires many short, sharp emails that might be more text-focused. Knowing the strategy can enable you to really hone in on what editing experience your users will need, so you don't spend time creating modules that won't get used.

Communicating with your users will really help. In our webinar on Implementing an Email Design System, Crystal Ledesma from Zillow shared that she created 'personas' to model the user experience around. She conducted interviews with teammates during the planning process to collect information on:

  • Where they are currently hitting issues with their existing setup
  • How they use the current system
  • Any ideas for improvements

This can be followed up with regular check-ins with the users during the building stage. It not only ensures that the Email Design System is really tailored to the needs of who will actually use it, but there is a constant line of communication between builder and user throughout. This means tweaks can easily be made, and buy-in to what you are making for them is also achieved. Since the users are the ones actually using what you make for them, they make it a success or a failure, so pay attention to them!

Taxi is built to help you make the best user experience from your Email Design System

Taxi's powerful code, Taxi Syntax, can help you create a tailored and fully customised user experience for whatever your users and your workflow needs.

Part 2 of our user experience in Email Design Systems series looks at how Taxi can help you build the best Email Design System experience for your users, specifically what Taxi Syntax unlocks for you. when creating it.

If you'd like to know more right now, you can get in touch with us - we'd love to chat!

See how Taxi can help your team

Taxi helps marketing teams make better quality email, quicker, at a larger scale.

Let's set up a conversation→

44,916 email campaigns and counting.

Join the smart marketers using Taxi to make better email.