Using the Coniq Email Designer

What is it?

The Email Designer is an addition to our Email Editor. It allows control over the design and structure of your email.

 

Why should I use it?

If you wish to build personalised emails quickly and easily then the Email Designer is for you. It has all the professional features you would expect, such as:

  • Accurate rendering across all major email clients (see compatibility table)
  • The ability to create multi-column, mobile-friendly designs
  • Quick and easy social media
  • Powerful styling and layout options
  • Background image support - even in Outlook

 

How do I use it?

To use the Email Designer you must start with a compatible template. Our standard templates are all compatible:

 

Once you have selected a compatible template, you will see the “Email Designer” button above your email:



Design Mode

Clicking the “Email Designer” button will toggle the display of the Email Designer, while at the same time placing your email into “design” mode:




During design mode your email content becomes a series of selectable blocks, with the first block selected by default. Settings for the current block are automatically displayed in the designer when a block is selected. Page and row settings are displayed by clicking the appropriate option:


To leave design mode simply close the Email Designer by clicking the cross in the corner. Your email content will then become editable again, allowing you to make text changes or upload images if required. As a shortcut, while in design mode you can double-click any text block to edit it, or any image block to upload an image.

 

Blocks

Emails are constructed from blocks, where each block is one of the following types:

  • Blank (for spacing out content)
  • Text  (rich text content)
  • Image  (upload an image)
  • Barcode  (barcode for an attached offer)
  • Social Media  (social media icon links)

Up to three blocks can be placed adjacently in the same row. On mobile devices adjacent blocks will stack on top of each other and fill the available screen width. This behaviour can be turned off if necessary by setting “Is responsive” to false (in Page settings).

 

Adding, Moving, Duplicating and Deleting

There are eight "action" buttons for changing the structure of your email:

Adds a new row to the end of the email
Moves the current row up
Moves the current row down
Duplicates the current row
Splits the current block into two
Moves the current block left
Moves the current block right
Deletes the current block

 

There are shortcut keys available for some of these actions. Simply click on a block and use the arrow keys to move it, or the “Delete” key to remove it.

Note that new rows always contain a block. Normally this will be a text block complete with Latin placeholder text. However, blank blocks are the default when a background-image is in use. You may change the current block type at any time using your block settings:

 
Styling

The Email Designer gives you full control over all of the styling options necessary for building a professional email. These are arranged into page, row and block settings:

Page settings define the base styles for the page. These include font family, font size, text colour, line spacing, background colour and default block padding. Text blocks will inherit these base styles, although you are still free to override them by setting styles within the rich text editor. There are also some more general settings:

  • "Is responsive" controls whether adjacent blocks stack vertically when viewed on a mobile.
  • "Background image" allows an image to be used on the background of your email.
  • "Plain text" allows you to set your own plain text version of the email, which some in-boxes use to display the opening email text.

Row settings include background colour, row divider width and row divider colour. If you set a background colour and need to remove it again, click “X” in the colour picker.

Block settings include block type, alignment, height, width (if row has multiple blocks), link url (for blank blocks), image size (for image blocks), text colour (for text blocks), and padding (top / bottom / left / right). Padding will inherit the default block padding (set in page settings) unless a specific value is set. If you set a text colour and need to inherit from the page again, click “X” in the colour picker.

Remember that detailed help is available for every setting by hovering over its help button (“?”).


Images

JPG, PNG and GIF formats can be used. Although there is a maximum size of 5MB, the smaller your images the quicker your email will load. For fast load times, try to keep your total image size under 250K.

When adding an image block, the default sizing mode is “Auto”. This means the image is displayed at its original size if there is the space to do so. If not, the image will scale down to fit the block width (taking into account any block padding). You can also set the image size as a percentage of its block width. This is most useful for reducing large images, but can be used to scale up small images at the cost of quality. Finally, before sending your email remember to click “Mobile preview” to check how your images look when scaled for a mobile device.


Background Images

There may be occasions when you need to create a graphically intricate email design using a product like Photoshop. This kind of design can easily be saved as JPG, PNG or GIF and then loaded into an image block. However, you may also need your design to contain dynamic or interactive elements (such as bar codes, social media etc.), in which case an image block is not suitable. Instead you will need to use a background image and lay your interactive elements on top.

Here are some points to remember when using background images:

  • Your email content will be fixed at 600px wide, even on mobile devices.
  • Background images should not be wider than 600px.
  • Background images repeat, so smaller repeating patterns can be used.
  • Background images will only fill the 600px email width, not the entire page background.

The best starting point is to use our simplest template pictured here on the right:

This template consists of a single image. However, we won't actually be using that image. Instead we will use the Email Designer to add a background image, remove the unused image and then overlay any required content.

First of all, open the Email Designer and set your background image in Page settings. Now layout any required content on top of your background image. Add the blocks you need (barcode, social media etc.) and use blank blocks to space out your content, adjusting their height to move your content up and down. Note that the indicated height excludes padding. Blanks blocks can also be used to make an area clickable by setting their link url (in Block settings).

When your email is complete you may wish to specify some "plain text" for it. Plain text is used by email inboxes to show the opening text of your email, and is usually automatically generated from your text blocks. However, if you have no text blocks, you should manually set your plain text in Page settings.

Outlook 2007, 2010 & 2013:

Like web pages, emails use HTML for their rich designs. All email programs (Outlook, Gmail etc.) have their own rendering engines which attempt to render this HTML correctly. In all but a few cases these engines work well. When it comes to Outlook however, Microsoft have a chequered history. For Outlook 2007, Microsoft starting using the old Word rendering engine instead of Internet Explorer. This left Outlook unable to correctly render HTML emails, causing broken layouts in emails that would render perfectly in other email programs. This problem continued through Outlook 2010 & 2013, and has only been rectified in Outlook 2016.

Due to the reasons mentioned, it is very difficult to achieve correct email rendering in these specific versions of Outlook. This applies doubly to background images, which are officially unsupported by Microsoft in Outlook 2007 / 2010 / 2013. Luckily the Email Designer has been painstakingly designed to combat these problems. We have done everything possible to ensure your emails render correctly. However, we would still recommend you test them first in either Outlook 2007, 2010 or 2013 when using background images. 


Barcodes

Barcodes are the mechanism for redeeming offers, so any email that has an offer must also contain a barcode. If an offer is chosen, a new barcode row will automatically be added to your email (unless you have already manually added one). It will be removed again if you remove the offer. The barcode row contains a text block and a barcode block, which you can fully manipulate with the Email Designer.


Social Media

The social media block contains your social media icon links. These are set-up from the "Social Media Settings" pop-up, which is launched automatically the first time you use a social media block in your email:


Enter urls for the media that you use on a regular basis. This information will be saved in your browser so that social media blocks can quickly be added in future. The enabled (ticked) items are the ones that will appear in your social media block.

Social Media Settings can be opened by double-clicking a social media block, or by clicking “Social media settings” (in the Email Designer Block settings).

Use "Icon style" to control the colour and shape of the social media icons. Note that the "Blend" option uses white icons with a level of transparency, so that your background colour will show through:

 

Colour (round):

Colour (square):

White (round):

White (square):

Blend (round):

Blend (square):


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