Dec 17, 2009

When it’s ok to break email design rules

We talk a loooot about email design best practices and stupid design mistakes. Stuff like "balance your image weight with text" and "the 250-pixel box." So it’s refreshing to get an end-of-year email that actually breaks some of those rules. Designed by email design experts Smith-Harmon, no less:


Smith-Harmon did a write-up here

Granted, this was sent to people in the email marketing industry, so we have a greater tolerance for risky behavior. Still, the animation, and the "scroll horizontally in your preview pane" to get my gift is a very thoughtful touch.

It’s design like this that makes Smith-Harmon one of the top email design agencies around, and why they can charge these big brands top dollar for their work. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of their designs were available to the public?

You know where I’m going with this, right?

We recently worked out a deal with the awesome designers at Smith-Harmon (before they got snatched up by Responsys) to provide all MailChimp customers with a set of gorgeously designed HTML email templates.

They’re going to be made available in our template gallery for a very affordable price (free).

We’re coding them out as fast as we can. Right now, we’ve got one holiday template that you can try. More to come soon, as well as designs from other well-known email design agencies.

Here’s how to get to the Smith-Harmon template in MailChimp:

1. Create a campaign:


2. When it’s time to select your template, click the "gallery" tab:


3. You’ll see a pulldown menu. Choose "premium" and the Smith-Harmon holiday templates will appear:


There are a total of 16 that will be here (as soon as we finish coding ’em!), but you can try out the holiday template now.

One thing to keep in mind: normally, we have to design email templates to fit a wide variety of brands and use-case scenarios. These templates, however, are a lot more "custom" built than our normal ones. So things are a little more strict. No changing color palettes and image sizes. And definitely no comic sans.