Five keys to mobile-ready email design

We all know that more people are reading their email on smartphones. But do you know how to craft your emails so that smartphone users can read and respond to them easily?

Matt Caldwell, senior creative director at Yesmail, says that there are three options with “mobile opens.”

  • You can include a link to a text version of the message, which many marketers do in their preheaders. This is easy and safe, but it doesn’t provide a riveting email experience.

  • You can create a dedicated mobile version of each email, but this can be costly and time-consuming. What’s more, both of these options require additional clicks by the subscriber, and we all know that more clicks translate to lower response rates.

  • The third, and as far as Caldwell is concerned best, option is to “design your emails to scale down cleanly” so that they are legible and engaging regardless of the platform on which they’re being read.

Given that an iPhone allows for a 300-pixel width when held vertically and a 480-pixel width in landscape format, compared with typical inbox pixel widths of 600 and more, this can seem daunting. Making matters trickier, while iPhones do resize emails to fit their screen, other smartphones do not.


  1. A GRID SYSTEM Designing your messages on a grid system, in which the various elements are aligned, allows emails to scale down much more neatly.


  3. ITEMS GROUPED INTO SECTIONS If your email has multiple items or article links, group several together to create a discrete section. Use the background color of the email itself to act as the divider between the various sections for easy organization.

  4. BIG SCALE ON A NARROW PAGE Caldwell advises designing to a width of 450 or so pixels, with a minimum font size of 14 pt.; headlines, he adds, should be at least 30-pt. type, which means “you’re going to have to go on a word diet.”

  5. VIEWPORT META TAG This is a simple code placed in the HTML header that enables some smartphone browsers to automatically change the dimensions of the email to accommodate the smartphone.