December 23, 2014

My Favorite Emails from 2014

The year is drawing to a close.

For most websites, that means a year-end review. Over on the Email Design Podcast, we recorded a special episode of the five best email campaigns from 2014 (look for it next week). Those five campaigns are the groundbreakers, the one’s that really shook things up in the email design community. But not every campaign can be an innovative masterpiece.

I wanted to take some time to highlight my personal favorites from the last year. Not every email is Earth-shatteringly complex, but they are all fantastic emails and senders that show how to deliver over the long-haul. It’s great to focus on the mind-blowing stuff but, more often than not, more important to highlight good, solid design that most senders can actually emulate.

So, in no particular order, here are my favorite emails and senders from the past year.

MailChimp UX Newsletter

MailChimp UX

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It’s no surprise that MailChimp knows how to send some good email. But their UX team’s occasional newsletter is a masterclass in email design. While most of their newsletters use the same template, the custom illustrations and killer content keep things interesting for every send. Every once in a while, they do something completely over-the-top and it’s amazing. This is one email that made it onto the Email Design Podcast review, but it’s worth mentioning here, as it is the finest example of intertwining design and content that I’ve ever seen in an email. Subscribe here.

MailChimp UX

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Wistia

Wistia

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I love so much about Wistia. Their content is second-to-none, their design chops are amazing, and they have the best sense of humor around. Fortunately, their emails bring all of that together and routinely deliver it to my inbox. Nothing mind-blowing here, but it’s great content wrapped up in solid design. I will admit to missing their older blog digest email, which was a stellar example of relying on text over images and still making the email visually interesting. Subscribe here.

Wistia

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Charity: Water

Charity Water

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Charity: Water is a great example of non-profits doing email right. Most of their campaigns follow the same structure, but they are masters at using copy and imagery to tell a compelling story. Plus, they occasionally deviate from the standard campaign and send something surprising and delightful–like the holiday email above. And you just can’t top that water can in the footer, so good. Subscribe here.

Type E:

Type E

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There’s only been one issue of Paul Airy’s newsletter devoted to typography in email design, but it’s a great one. Admittedly, this newsletter’s not for everyone. But, for type and email nerds like myself, it’s like mana from heaven. The coolest part is that Paul puts the techniques described in the newsletter to work in the campaign itself, showing off what’s possible when email designers stop worrying about universal support (which doesn’t exist). Subscribe here.

Exposure Weekly Selects

Exposure

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Quite possible my favorite email design around. The images and type work together beautifully and reflect the quality of Exposure’s brand and content. Again, there’s nothing amazing going on code-wise, but great content and great design just adds up to something wonderful. Subscribe here.

What to Wear

What to Wear

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What to Wear is a company based out of Boston that answers the simple question: what should I wear today? It’s local to Boston, but I’ve subscribed for a long time and watched it grow from a mildly useful email to one that is a vital part of a subscriber’s day. That’s largely been accomplished through its refined design and use of icons to present information in a quick, useful manner. I live in Michigan (and can’t wait to see What to Wear spread to other cities), but it’s still worth subscribing to for the amazing information design and for when I’m visiting the rest of the Litmus folks in Boston. Subscribe here.

Code School

Code School

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That email above made the Email Design Podcast cut, too, but everything Code School sends is gold. Just like the MailChimp UX emails, Code School emails are an amazing example of unifying design and content. Each email campaign is unique and ties directly in to the topic of the course itself. Plus, designer Dan Denney is one of the best in the business and shows it off in his use of gradients, graphics, animation, and CSS transforms. Subscribe here.

Code School

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2014 has been an amazing year for email design. It finally feels like web designers and companies are taking email seriously and subscribers are reaping the benefits. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store. Have a favorite email of your own? Let me know over on Twitter.