CATEGORY: email-marketing

How will 2020 design trends influence your email creative?

How will 2020 design trends influence your email creative?

The world of design continues to evolve and graphic design, along with technological advancement, continue to have and influence on email design. Trends that dominated designs in 2019 will still be popular in the coming year. 

Current Trends

There are a number of trends that Really good emails identified in 2019 as set to continue well into 2020 – and they have built a series of boards with a variety of examples of each of these trends to inspire and enlighten as you plan your next project. We’ll continue to see vibrant coloursbold typography, and off-grid designs along with 

But new trends in digital design will make their way into the email design world over the coming months. There are a number of graphic design trends that will undoubtedly influence the aesthetics of the email genre. Let’s take a look at some

Developing Trends

  • 3D imagery

  • Combining animation with other content

  • New graphic design trends (more retro inspired design like Bauhaus/Swiss and use of abstractions)

  • Embracing Dark mode is set to really take off

3D Imagery

“The 3D trend reached its peak in 2019 and it certainly won’t fade away so quickly. Thanks to the opportunities of modern technology and software capabilities, in 2020, we will keep seeing more awesome 3D graphic design compositions. Moreover, in order to be more creative, designers will often combine it with other realities, such as photos and 2-dimensional objects.”  GraphicMama

And whilst the 3D trend is prevalent in design it is only just starting to impact in the email space. 3D can bring depth and interest to your creative, and currently is a point of difference as it's uptake is limited. It is also a great new option to capitalise on as there are no significant rendering implications as whilst sophisticated the files are only image files.

What is more interesting, however, is how the 3D element is being used in email – an example that Litmus highlighted is a Black Friday email from Designmodo.

Designmodo, offers a range of web and email resources, bring a little 3D to the hero of this Black Friday campaign, making their discount stand out:


This is also a brilliant example of the second point – using animation to draw attention to CTAs, as well as using it to increase engagement as for those clients that will accept it the discount appears through an animation (although it looks equally good static as above).

Combining animation with other content

Animated elements allow you to:

  • Catch the reader’s eye

  • Emphasize a promo or message

  • Drive subscribers to convert

Pulsing CTA buttons, image carousels, highlighting text or looping motion, can all boost engagement and draw attention to the key message. But these elements should be used sparingly to ensure they maximise their impact.  Simplicity is key here, as if you go overboard with your animation or interactive elements then the message can become confusing and overwhelming.

Here are some great examples of animationbeing used to really drive a point home:

  • If you have a variety of products or photos you want to highlight without the email feeling content-heavy, you can easily rotate photos using frame animation.

  • Frame animation can also be used to draw attention to your headline, by highlighting each word – just keep it simple.

When you design interactive emails, keep in mind that some email clients won’t display them correctly. For example, MS Outlook isn’t good with interactive elements. However, this problem can be easily solved with segmentation — for example, you can create a separate segment of Gmail users and send interactive emails only to them. Due to various levels of support across inbox providers, animation in email marketing requires thoughtful design to ensure deliverability. Using animated GIFs is the best wayto ensure your email renders well across the majority of email clients.



Retro design trends

With the Bauhaus movement celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen its linear lines, geometrical forms, and experimental compositions with broken grids regain popularity over the past months—and it will continue to influence email designs in 2020. 

At the same time, Swiss Design is making a comeback, with its typical use of large sans serif typography (think Helvetica) becoming more popular than ever. Minimal is making a comeback, and the fonts are expected to be bold, simple and no-fuss, allowing the message to shine through without it being too much:

The result: Email designs with a hint of a retro feel that look fresh and modern—and simply beautiful—like this newsletter from Bugsnag

retro design

Embracing dark mode

Whilst dark mode has been available on many devices since the middle of 2019, with apps like Instagram and Gmail following suit in the last quarter, dark mode is ever increasing traction with consumers. Some argue the dark mode was to improved legibility others suggest it was purely a reaction to the increased minimalism in design. However there are some contexts where dark mode can be useful. According to Apple’s human interface guidelines, dark mode allows the “content to stand out while the surrounding UI recedes into the background.” dark mode works well when you want to encourage the reader to quickly scan stats and focus on key data points, like when looking at stocks, charts, or graphs. Likewise, a Salesforce study suggests that there may be some functional benefits when it comes to reading charts and graphics.


So using dark mode to highlight key points can be very effective, but while there’s plenty of advice out there for adequately optimizing your email content for the average inbox, email marketers need to start learning how to work with both dark and light optimization simultaneously, so that their audience can view these emails without issues. 

Dark Mode is taking over the inbox—and making sure emails look great in this reading environment is the new big challenge for email marketers. Watch out for our dedicated article on dark mode email design for more guidance. 

dark mode

How will these design trends impact your email creative? Or will you be doing something completely different to stand out from the crowd. Design is an essential component in your overall email campaign, indeed 46.1% use visual design as the first indicator to judge if a company is credible - so once you have hooked them with your brilliant subject line, don't lose them with poor design. 

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