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Christopher Knight

Ezine Publishing Design For The Email Preview Pane
By Christopher Knight



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"The biggest challenge facing online marketers today is to design for the preview pane and ever-shrinking real estate of the email inbox," said Stefan Pollard, Director of Consulting, EmailLabs in a recent media release. I do agree that it's a major challenge for ezine publishers and let's give it some attention today by considering how to improve your email newsletter template to address the preview pane's impact.

What Is The Preview Pane?

There is a high-chance I don't have to tell you what it is because you're probably already using it. Personally, I think it's evil and I turned it off years ago. I also don't allow my team to use it because I strongly believe it makes a person incompetent due to how much information is hidden from the user when interacting with email. I'm sure I might feel differently if I didn't work in an email-based business where reading email headers is something we do unconsciously to determine truth. ;-) By default, popular programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Notes and Eudora/Eudora Pro (and others) are defaulted to the preview pane view where the summary of your email is on the top pane and the body of the email is in the bottom pane. The idea is that preview panes will speed up interacting with email. Some swear by it and you know my position (that I don't see any increase in speed by using it but I see a big increase in incompetence in using it due to the hiding or key information from the user). Regardless as to my low opinion of the preview-pane, the majority of the world uses it. Some preview-panes are vertical, but the majority are horizontal. Web-based email clients are just starting to use the preview-pane as I see Yahoo web mail beta has had the preview pane for at least a month now. I expect others to follow this trend.

What Should Ezine Publishers Do To Be More Preview-Pane Friendly?

  1. Redesign your email newsletter template to put the highest value text links near the top and move the images (which might be blocked anyway) below the fold. While I'm sure your HTML ezine header is pretty, this is about getting results.
  2. Give the top 4 inches (10 centimeters) of your ezine a very close inspection. This may be all that your email members see before tossing your email. Lose idle chit-chat or low-value content in this space and replace with the highest value information or a link to that information.
The preview-pane redesign challenge goes hand-in-hand with the fact that many email clients are defaulted to block images. Keep that in mind as you redesign your new ezine layout.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter: http://www.emailuniverse.com/subscribe/.

Ezine-Tips for September 15, 2006

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