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In The Know – Gmail & Responsive Email Design

Written by - 18/11/2016

In The Know

Gmail & Responsive Email Design

Staying one step ahead of the curve is difficult in any industry. That’s not news to anyone. But staying ahead is also necessary, particularly when it comes to advancements in tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. It’s very easy for us to become complacent and comfortable with the platforms that we use, and it’s easy for us to forget, in turn, that evolution is a necessary part of running a successful business.

Gmail, Google’s own email client, has become a tool that many people use daily, both on a personal and business level, and is one such platform that we, like most others, have grown comfortable using. The one issue that arises with the consistent evolution of platforms such as Gmail, is changes in formatting, or how you want your email to look.

We have become used to formatting our email output in a broad sense across multiple platforms, with a primary focus on Desktop appearance. But with Google’s recent look to a ‘mobile-first’ future, this is changing, and, for many, has already changed.

With mobile representing 41.9% of all email opens during Q1 of 2019, it makes sense for Gmail to shift focus, supporting fully responsive emails that adjust themselves according to the reader’s device of choice. As of late September 2016, all emails that run through Gmail adapt to fit all screen sizes, with text, links and buttons all being made larger to ease tapping through when displayed on touchscreen devices. The same also applies to Desktop, with emails designed for mobile adjusting to the larger platform.

What this means from an email design perspective is fairly straightforward. Simply accounting for this shift by checking how your email looks across all platforms will mean that you can adjust accordingly if there are any formatting issues. Using CSS media queries with Gmail and Inbox by Gmail will give you a chance to ensure that your message is formatted the way you intended. It is worth considering, however, that in future months, and as part of the ever-changing technological landscape, Gmail will continue to update its interface, potentially causing further issues with formatting. In addition to this, the continual development of new and innovative devices pose even more potential problems.

In spite of this, Gmail has continued to evolve in an effort to expand CSS support across the platform and to give email designers more control over how messages appear on any number of devices. With responsive email design there is now more scope to create tailored user experiences and improve email open and click-through rates across the board.

With email being widely used as a marketing tool many businesses will often place onus on the front end of their website, leaving email design as an afterthought. It is impossible to overstate the importance of creating a consistent feel across platforms, as if even the slightest thing is amiss you could risk harming your company image.