Big-Bucket Design: For Email That Can Be Read By Everyone

First impressions aren’t always the best ones, but badly designed email can turn people away and even prevent them from accessing it. That’s the main takeaway from a recent post by EMMA on “inclusive design.”

What’s that? “Inclusive design means designing your emails so everyone can easily understand your message, regardless of disabilities or assistive devices,” Meghan Sokolnicki writes for EMMA.

We imagine it might also keep you from mistaking it as spam. But let’s stick to the main benefit proclaimed by EMMA — that inclusive design results in email that can be read by all.

With that in mind, here is EMMA’s inclusive design checklist, with some comments added:

Establish a clear focus — That meansdecluttering your layout and ensuring that the focus of the mailing is clear to all. This is especially important for those with ADD/ADHD.

Incorporate tried-and-true design fundamentals — Pay attention to “foundational design”principles like hierarchy, white space, font styling and clear calls to action.



Use live text  — This is better than deployingtext as images. Live text is easier to read, especially on mobile.

Use alt text — That is what appears if the image fails to load. It’s also what screen readers will pick up. And according to EMMA, this is “especially important for those listening to email.”

Use large text — Increasing your font size by a few points can “make a huge difference in someone’s experience and help increase comprehension and legibility. Body copy should have a minimum size of 14 pixels, along with larger headlines.

Avoid centering text — Centered or justified text is difficult to read for people with dyslexia. And if you must try this, limit it to three or four lines of text.

Use bulletproof buttons — these are easy to read and engage with.

Use color intelligently — Color should support your message — it doesn’t have to look like it belongs in the Museum of Modern Art. But test the contrast between elements to ensure that you have “a high color contrast to ensure that the two colors aren’t blending together and hiding the message.”

Test, test, test! This is one thing that separates direct marketing pros from the amateurs.

It’s a whole new way of thinking about design. Thanks, EMMA.

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