Designing HTML Email Templates for Transactional Emails
Transactional emails often get neglected.
Styling HTML email templates is painful: Tables, inline CSS, unsupported CSS, desktop clients, web clients, mobile clients, various devices are all things that build and influence your email template. Should any inbox service provider (ISP, that’s Gmail) or email service provider (ESP, that’s us) struggle to receive/send your emails due to something like a table that isn’t optimized for mobile viewing — your email campaigns will fail to attract engagements.
All this to say that it’s no surprise developers don’t want to deal with transactional email templates when there is a backlog of more important priorities.
We’ve tried to remove some of the pain for you and open-sourced a collection of common HTML email templates for transactional email. Email marketing campaigns will require a different template, especially since the content can vary widely depending on what you’re sending. For example, an email newsletter can change daily/weekly/monthly and have a more defined audience depending on the email marketing campaign. So keep in mind that these templates are best suited for transactional emails.
- Action emails e.g. activate your account, reset your password
- Email alerts e.g. reaching a limit, there was a problem
- Billing emails e.g. monthly receipts and invoices
These responsive HTML email templates have been tested in all the popular email clients. View on GitHub.
Before sending HTML emails you should inline your CSS. We recommend using something like Premailer to accomplish this. There are libraries that do this for each of the popular languages (Ruby, Node, PHP, Python, Grunt) or you can manually inline your CSS here. Our email templates include media queries for responsive design. It is important that media queries are not inlined (Premailer handles this for you).
Our repo contains both the original templates with a separate CSS stylesheet, as well as templates with CSS already inlined. See the
Responsive design with media queries
These responsive email templates are responsive for mobile devices and use media queries to optimize the design for smaller screens.
As of July 2014, ~50% of emails are opened on mobile devices. So it’s important that your emails look good and are usable on small screens.
Be aware that as of writing this, only a handful of email clients support media queries. This includes iOS Mail, Android 4.X and Windows Phone 7.5 native email apps.
Email client rendering test results
We’ve tested these email templates across all the major desktop, web and mobile clients, using Litmus.
Email design workflow with Grunt
You also might be interested in this Grunt task for compiling and testing html emails. This is what we used to design and test our transactional emails. It’s a good way to manage your email layouts, compile SCSS, inline CSS and send out a preview to your inbox.
Download the email templates
These are free and open-sourced, so feel free to use them as you wish. If you do use them, we’d love to know about it. Leave us a link in the comments to your product or service. Discuss on Hacker News
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Modified on: March 13, 2019
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