Email templates are great. They do most of the design work for you. But there’s one problem with templates: Many are just plain boring. They’re like the monotone voice of your high school physics teacher. The content may be important, but you can’t help but snooze. So I decided to take a look at the 50 most recent emails on Really Good Emails — a website that showcases the best email designs on the web — to find some of the top design trends in the industry right now. And you know what I found? You don’t have to be a digital Picasso to create eye-catching emails. In fact, you can easily incorporate these trends into any template via a drag-and-drop editor.

Email Design Trend #1: BIG Headlines

You may have the world’s best headline, but if it drowns in a sea of text, no one will notice it. That’s where “visual hierarchy” comes in. You want the most important information in your message to get noticed first. Visual hierarchy can be achieved through color or placement or artwork, but in the examples above, you can see it’s done through a headline with an increased font size and bolded text. It makes the main message stand out right away.

Email Design Trend #2: Bold Header Images

This trend goes hand-in-hand with big headlines, but it has a different design intent than just getting noticed: It evokes emotion. With large header images, you’re attempting to make an emotional connection with the viewer in the first few seconds after they open your message. The image sets a mood (happy! sad! angry!) or conveys a state of mind (hunger! relaxation!). Don’t have a big budget or an in-house photographer? Use a site like, where you can access royalty-free images. Above are three drastically different emails that give each individual brand a unique feel, predominately through their use of photographic header images.

Email Design Trend #3: Zigzag Patterns

In an effort to break up chunks of text, many designers use a zigzag or “z” pattern. This design arrangement helps readers continue to move their way down an email, engaging with the imagery and content along the way. Think of it like a path for your reader to go down. It helps them make it to the end! The zigzag pattern is also a nice way use imagery to convey your brand’s personality.

Want your readers to take an action, like clicking a link or replying to your email? If everything in your message has equal importance, they won’t know where to focus their attention. Each element will scream for the reader to “look here!” And too many choices can kill conversion. Your reader will feel overwhelmed and won’t click anywhere. Instead, use a mix of buttons and text links to call importance to the items you really want subscribers to focus on. Get your reader to take an action by pointing them to one button. It’s OK to add other hypertext links along the way, as long as your main call-to-action is most prominent. Here are a few examples of emails that do this well.

Email Design Trend #5: Videos

Wellllll kinda. You can’t include an actual video in emails yet, unfortunately. Most email clients — like Gmail and Outlook — won’t play video within a message, so you have to link to a hosted video outside of your email. But one of the newest design trends is to include links to videos that also look like you could play them within the email. It’s a creative way to deliver motion pictures and get your readers to click and watch.

Put It All Together

Spice up your go-to email template by incorporating one or two of these design trends into your next email. Now that you have the design aspect covered, how is your content? Are you struggling with what to write in your emails? Then try our free email writing course. It comes with 45+ downloadable email templates to get you started.