NOTE: See Manage Your Templates to learn how to manage templates in the New Admin Experience.
In this article, we'll cover creating and managing templates using Template Designer 2 (TD2). The designing of templates is done on two sub-tabs of the Design tab in TD2:
- Build - where you add the various "building blocks" (called static elements) of the template.
- Theme - where you set the properties that become the default styles for the template.
The Build sub-tab
Template Designer 2 uses static elements as its building blocks. You can drag and drop static elements from the Design tab > Build sub-tab > Static Elements area onto your template to get a sense of how it looks.
After you've added static elements, see what they can do; many static elements have several components that you'll want to use.
The Theme sub-tab
Click the Theme sub-tab to set the properties (e.g., spacing, background colors, fonts) for the template's elements (e.g., text, hyperlinks, lists). These become the default styles for each element. Now, when you add elements to the template, they "inherit" those properties.
NOTE: The text element (shown below) is where you configure the properties (e.g., font, size, color) for the template's styles (headings, sub-headings, and text).
The elements and settings that are available on the Theme tab are detailed in Manage a Template Theme.
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Best practices: Deliverability
The ultimate goal when sending a message is to, of course, have it delivered. Prior to any message landing in someone's inbox, email clients employ a spam filter to evaluate whether that message meets a set of standards.
Because much of a message's content is often dictated by its template, let's look at some of the best practices you can employ to give your messages the best chance of delivery.
- Avoid excessive punctuation, caps, hyphens, etc. in the body and subject line of your message.
- Avoid using third-party link-shortening tools such as bit.ly or tinyurl. Because a lot of spammers use these free tools in an attempt to hide their spam links, many email clients now flag these types of links.
- Avoid "exposed" URLs (i.e., simply pasting a full link in the message); instead, "embed" your URLs in text and images.
- Avoid common spam trigger words/phrases in the body and subject line. While this is fairly nuanced in practice, you should avoid words like "free!" and phrases like "work from home"; ultimately, if it sounds like something a spammer or scammer would say, try to keep it out of your messages. With that said, there is some flexibility here, and simply including the word "free" doesn't automatically mean your message won't be delivered.
- Avoid too little text in the body of your message. A common reason this occurs is the use of excessive images. Spam filters flag emails with too little text, so messages that comprise mostly images tend to be flagged. This can be tricky, as many organization employ graphic designers who produce wonderful images for use in their email campaigns, and while we support (and encourage) the use of high-quality imagery to bolster your messages, it's important to have a balance of images and text.
- Include alt-text for all of your images. This is especially important if you plan to include a lot of images. This not only helps you comply with accessibility standards but also gives spam filters additional text to evaluate.
The Properties tab is where you'll set high-level properties for your template.
While not explicitly displayed on the page, this tab has two "sections":
This section includes high-level properties used to locate and identify your template:
- Status - The "status" of your template is indicated above the options: In Progress or Active. Note that only Active templates can be used in messages.
- Template Name - Enter a name for your template. Changing this name automatically updates the name located in the top right of the designer.
- Folder - Click the dropdown to select a folder where the template can reside.
These are the default envelope properties associated with messages:
- Sender Profile - Click the dropdown to select a Sender Profile to automatically populated the envelope fields below. This reduces the chance of errors and it saves time having to repeatedly input the same values in message after message. See Sender Profiles (MD2) to learn more.
- From - Enter a from address that subscribers see in their inboxes.
- Friendly From - Enter a name that subscribers see in their inboxes. This name is associated with the from address.
- Reply To - Enter an address that subscribers can reply to.
Review & Activate tab
After you've finalized your template design, you're just a couple steps away from seeing it in your organization's messages. Let's look at the Review & Activate tab, where you'll be able to take a final look at your template before it's ready to go.
The Review & Activate tab is divided into three sections:
- At the top, checking your template content;
- next, activating (and deactivating) the template;
- lastly, performing a virtual inbox test.
Let's look at each of these sections in a little more detail.
As mentioned above, you’ll want to review the look and feel of your template before you activate it. You can review three main versions of your template:
- Desktop Version
- Mobile Version
- Online Version
To see how each version of your template looks, click the corresponding button.
The Activate your template section shows the status of your template. There are a number of tasks you must complete before activating a template; these are listed in this section. After completing these steps, you will be able to activate your template and use it in a message.
NOTE: For active templates, this button updates to Deactivate; click it to deactivate a template.
This message displays: "Deactivating this template will not affect any in-progress, published, or scheduled messages that are using it. Any current or future versions of messages using this template are preserved in Informz."
- Any template that has been has been used in a message (In Progress, Scheduled, and/or Sent) is considered in-use.
- If an in-use template is deleted, any messages that are currently using it are not affected; the messages maintain the template's details. Deleted templates are no longer available for new messages, though.
Virtual Inbox Test
Scrolling down the page a little more, you'll see the Virtual Inbox Test, which provides two services:
- It allows you to see how your template will look in various email environments (desktop, web, and mobile) and email clients (gmail, Outlook, etc.).
- It checks whether your template passes the spam filter test, which scans your template for common spam triggers.
TIP: You can learn how to avoid common spam triggers in the Best Practices: Deliverability section earlier in this article.
After running the test, this area updates to display three categories of email clients: desktop, mobile, and webmail.
- Click the arrows on the right to expand the categories and view which email clients were tested.
- Click Failed tests and Passed tests in the left panel to see which email clients failed the spam filter test and which ones passed. If any tests fail, we recommend reviewing your template to see if there are any aspects you can improve, such as having a balance of text and images, removing "exposed URLs" and common spam words, etc.
NOTE: It may take a few minutes for the test to complete; you can continue to work as the test is running, and results will auto-update in real-time as results are compiled.
Also, you can run this test multiple times, with each set of results saved for future reference. To view them, click the dropdown and select a test (you may have to click Back to view this menu).
TIP: Virtual Inbox Test is run on a variety of desktop, mobile, and webmail email clients. To see a list of the email clients that are currently included, visit the Email on Acid "active email clients" page, scroll down, and click to view the full client list.
Edit an activated template
To edit an activated template, simply deactivate it and edit it like you would any other template.
NOTE: Updating a template automatically prompts the people creating messages to let them know that there was a template change. They'll have the option to update their messages accordingly.
Create a template from scratch
Depending on the type of message you want to create, it can be helpful to start with an empty canvas. You can do this using the Blank Canvas template.
Classic Admin interface
- Navigate to Message Designer 2 > Templates.
- Click Create. (Skip to step 3 below to continue.)
New Admin interface
- Navigate to Messages > Templates.
- Click the (+) icon, followed by Create in the dialog (make sure Template Designer is selected).
- The Template Designer opens. On the Template Gallery tab, select the Blank Canvas template.
- In the resulting Design, window, use the available elements to create the exact template you need.