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Mobile Email design options explained: Fluid, Skinny, Scalable, Responsive, Adaptive and Dedicated

Author's avatar By Tim Watson 06 Aug, 2013
Essential Essential topic

Video summary of three different mobile email design options

It's common now for marketers to ask the question, "will our emails work on mobile?". But it's not that simple unfortunately... there are several different ways to tackle this and each has its own jargon. So I created this video to help explain the different terminologies such as scalable, skinny and responsive email design.

Don't have time to view the video? Here's a transcript explaining the alternatives.

  • 1. Fluid Design: The text always takes up 100% of the width of the window, so as you change the width of your email with your browser, it automatically reflows and fits in the window - whether it's for mobile, tablet, desktop etc.
  • 2. Skinny design. No reflow here, so as you change the width of the window, nothing changes within the content.  Companies such as Coke tend to design their email narrow to 500 pixels wide so it works on a mobile first, but there is some compromise when viewed on a Desktop device.
  • 3. Scaleable design: No reflow of text or fluidity here. For example, an email is designed to roughly 630 pixels wide, you zoom out to fit on a mobile (approx 426 pixels wide) then the email is still useable. All images and headings are still large enough to be displayed when zoomed out to normal display.
  • 4. Responsive design: Email changes dynamically to reflect the size of display. For example, the text or images jump down if the email is viewed on a mobile and sometimes the call to actions can be reduced for different devices.

There are also two less commonly viewed types. Dedicated designs for specific devices which aren't really used anymore and adaptive design which you may be familiar with, when an image is displayed at the time the email is opened, and according to the device.

Most companies are now designing according to responsive, scaleable or skinny design. What's your preference?

Author's avatar

By Tim Watson

Tim is founder of email marketing consultancy Zettasphere and EOS Implementer at Traction Six. Experience includes Operations Director at Email Reaction and Marketing Director (fractional) in the US delivering a 310% revenue increase to $5m. Tim has 15 years of email marketing expertise with a heavily analytical approach to strategic choices. Connect with Tim via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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