Modular email templates

In this 43 min video, I take a look at designing a modular template system. This is simply a group of reusable modules and email patterns, that can be combined together in various ways to generate different templates. Although not a new approach, I’ve seen a surge of interest in the last few years as everyone grapples with mobile redesigns.

The featured examples vary in scope and industry. Adorama started with just ten modules and have gone onto expand it, whereas’s latest is 35. They also had different design challenges, which I go through along with our process, user testing and internal management.

Why and basic process - 0:00
Adorama - 2:07 - 16:41
Latest system - 29.25
User Testing - 32.47
Internal management - 39:16


Grab the deck

I left the video transcript in the deck as notes for those of you who download it. Though the video shows the live templates and provides more context than the slides, so it’s also worth checking out.



4 Responses to “Modular email templates”

  • Jaina
    December 29th, 2014 07:43

    Posting of this video couldn’t be better timed for me - just going through a massive overhaul of emails and I’m wanting to modularise them as I know there will be further iterations, but also help other not email code proficient team members to be able to confidently put emails together. Great video, Anna.

  • Anna Yeaman
    January 2nd, 2015 17:34

    Thanks Jaina,

    that’s something I hear a lot. You’ll have teams where some folks are code savvy and others not so much, and in order to take some of the burden of the devs - or one lone dev as is surprisingly often the case - they want something everyone can use.

    Let me know how your modular redesign works out, be interested to see what workflow you end up using (manually editing, template builder etc.).

    - Anna

  • Nathan
    January 30th, 2015 12:49

    Also a great time as I am just starting a similar project as well. As always some fantastic insights.

    I’m curious as to what you’ve seen people use for a template builder for html emails – I’ve never found anything that works very well.


  • Anna Yeaman
    February 1st, 2015 15:35

    Hi Nathan,

    usually it’s just their ESPs template builder, though I do hear grumblings about those sometimes. We just designed a modular system for a client that hooked it up to TaxiForEmail. It’s ESP agnostic, and fits in with the whole modular approach. Though they are just out of beta and still adding functionality, its worth checking out.

    If you’re a dev you could try out some of the more advanced workflows like though most of our clients want something non-devs can also use.

    As I mentioned in the video, most of our clients have chosen to edit them manually in a text editor. The closer you are to the code the better in many cases. Less chance of wonky auto generated code, and all template builders have their limitations. Though that does require a basic comfort level with code.


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