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Design showcase: The navigation edition

A look at custom email templates that direct readers to more than just the homepage

Navbars, nav links, navigation menus — no matter what you call them, they're part of almost any website that you visit. They're usually a series of buttons or text links like Home, About Us or Order a Platypus, and they provide the most direct way to move about a website's various pages (especially if you're like me and are always looking for the shortest route to a platypus bargain).

What you may not know, though, is that they can also be a very helpful addition to your email template. Let's take a look at some of Emma's custom designs that include navigation links, and some of the benefits of including them.


University Settlement custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: University Settlement
Designer: Kelly McClain
Design Level: Concierge Design

University Settlement is a fantastic organization that provides a range of social services and support for immigrant families in New York City. Their colorful tab navigation is eye-catching and easily recognizable to anyone who has visited their home page.

Kelly's inclusion of those tabs in her design creates strong brand recognition due to the visual consistency between their website and email stationery. That kind of familiarity really helps when subscribers are deciding whether they should read your painstakingly-crafted campaign, and it also keeps their experience of your online presence as seamless as possible.

Lex Gillette custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: UCSD Track & Field / Lex Gillette
Designer: Kelly McClain
Design Level: Concierge Design

An inspiring paralympic athlete and motivational speaker, Lex Gillette has a content-packed website and a lengthy navigation menu to match. Much of what makes his site so visually memorable, though, is his striking portrait in conjunction with the spare color palette. Knowing the best approach would be consistency here, Kelly chose to echo the look and feel of the website to reinforce his singular branding, as she did with the University Settlement design featured above.

The big difference here is that University Settlement's five colorful tabs are a primary feature of their stationery header; Lex Gillette's has twice that number of links, so the header would look cluttered if the navigation were more prominent. Kelly's challenge, then, was to include the links as unobtrusively as possible without making them too inconspicuous — a goal she accomplished quite tidily.

And while ten navigation links is a lot to include in a stationery design, there's definitely a benefit: on Emma's response page, the client will be able to track click-throughs to each linked page. That way, he'll be able to gauge each campaign's ability to generate interest in specific areas of his site.

Homeworks custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: HomeWorks
Designer: Taylor Schena
Design Level: Concierge Design

HomeWorks, a company that not only contracts home improvements but offers do-it-yourself coaching and educational services to homeowners, has a distinctively hand-drawn, tactile look and feel to their website. Their main page contains ten navigation links — like the Lex Gillette site mentioned above — and Taylor's design is an excellent example of a different way to handle that many links.

In this case, instead of trying to cram all of those whimsically-penciled navigation icons from their site into the smaller confines of an email stationery header, Taylor helped the client narrow down the links to what they considered to be the four most essential. This is a helpful reminder that you don't have to include all your nav links; in fact, limiting links will aid in driving traffic to particular pages of your site that you'd most like to feature.

Anna Mae Southern Bread custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: Anna Mae's Southern Bread Co.
Designer: Cody Newman
Design Level: Concierge Design

Of course, your design doesn't have to look like your website in order to include a navigation menu. Anna Mae's Southern Bread Co., a bakery that crafts slow-risen, artisan sourdough rolls, loved the look of their site but preferred that their stationery resemble their delightful product packaging.

Cody recreated the look of their packaging by using the distinctive border decoration, block print graphics and background texture, and he was also able to cleverly incorporate their four nav links into the design. Their inclusion doesn't take away from the feel of what the client wanted, while still offering the advantage of direct page links in their header.


Want to see even more custom email templates with navigation menus? Take a look at these six examples from Emma customers.

If you're ready to get yourself a fancy new stationery with navigation links ("Order Platypus" button optional), you can get started by filling out our design request form and we'll take it from there.

Until next time, much navigational love from your Emma Design Team!

Email geek, inspirational potty mouth, and design services lead for Emma.