Recently, I had the chance to work remotely from the UK. I’m always glad to be back in my homeland, and I was happy to see that the email community across the pond is thriving. I attended Litmus Live London while I was there, and I have to say that it was great to reconnect with my fellow English #emailgeeks.
The event was packed into a full day of talks, networking, and live email optimization. The talks fell into two categories:
- Design & Development
I primarily focused on the Design & Development side of things, and since the event, I’ve been reflecting on some interesting and inspiring trends that I observed. Here are my key takeaways and the things I’m excited to bring back to Knak.
Big, Bold Design Trends
Lily Worth’s talk on Visual Design Techniques to Ignite the Inbox showcased some of 2019’s best-looking email campaigns. The pieces she picked were great examples, and they really inspired me to reconsider the things that make companies stand out from the crowd.
She also shared some excellent examples from SaaS companies, including Helpscout, which uses custom illustrations and bold typography to great effect, and Asana, whose animated GIFs put educational animation for new product releases directly in the inbox.
As tech leaders, I think it’s crucial for SaaS companies to be at the forefront of email design innovation, and that’s what we’re working towards with the recently launched Knak newsletter. We need to find that perfect balance between useful product information, beautiful design, and email development innovation.
The web version of W3C has been around for a while, but since the mysterious art of email development still has many caveats, it’s been more difficult to establish best practices for accessibility.
Fortunately, accessibility was a key theme in this year’s Litmus Live talks. Paul Airy shared some particularly inspiring insight into how an accessible design system can be built into the email workflow (check out the accessibility switcher in this email for an example).
I’ve subscribed to his “Type E” newsletter for a number of years now, so I knew he would share some excellent, innovative ideas on email development, and his talk did not disappoint. We’re always trying to make Knak’s email code as accessible as possible, but I love the idea of empowering both users and senders alike to make emails accessible. Recipients should be able to interpret the content of your emails no matter what, and building a workflow and design system around this idea seems like a no-brainer for anyone sending out email on a large scale.
Working towards email evangelism isn’t necessarily a linear process. Teams can be organized in various formats, so the email workflow should be built around the people involved and develop as necessary.
Mark Robbins covered this well in his talk on fostering innovation, neatly summarizing some necessary steps:
- Understand what works best for you.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
- Write your own rules.
- If it’s not working, change it.
- Learn how to learn.
He also noted that avoiding stagnation and working towards innovation is key for everyone: individuals, teams, and the email community as a whole.
Miles Depaul continued the conversation by giving some interesting insight into how SCRUM can be used for email teams to work toward development style stories or goals in sprints. The Knak product team already uses the SCRUM methodology, and we’ve started implementing it on the marketing side as well to help us define and align our goals as we grow.
Miles suggested that SCRUM is important for email teams where a number of different roles and individuals are involved in the process.
In the coming year, I believe that software tools designed to streamline both individual and team workflow management will become increasingly important in our space.
All in all, I’m glad I had the chance to reconnect with the Litmus Live London crew. I’m grateful for another year of email inspiration, connection with my fellow #emailgeeks, and a solid variety of colorful socks.