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It was about 15 years ago that my wife and I received a beautiful Waterford crystal vase as a gift. The exquisite detail and sheer elegance of the vase is utterly amazing, as any Waterford piece normally is. We take it out as often as we buy flowers or receive them when we host guests. However, there is one problem: the vase does not hold 12 flowers very well. In fact, we often take two or three flowers out and put them into another vase simply because it’s a pain and makes things look awkward if we try and cram them in. While beautiful, the vase lacks functionality, and it’s a shame since we really love the piece.
People are obsessed with beautiful things. We imagine beautiful houses, shoes, cars, jewelry, and we tend to put beautiful people on a pedestal simply because they look great. That obsession can be found everywhere, and in fact it spills over into email.
I have sat on many creative calls with people who ask for a more “modern and luxurious” look to their emails, and I have read blog posts and articles where the writer tears apart a piece of creative from a well-known brand, simply by how the thing looks. Let me be clear here in that I don’t fault people for wanting a good-looking product, but we always have to take into consideration whether or not it’s functional to the user.
Beautiful-looking emails win awards, but sometimes the beauty overshadows the true performance. As marketers and brand advocates, we often mistake beauty for functionality when we design emails. I think we can all agree that emails lacking functionality will certainly lose to those that do. Sometimes you need to put aside what “you” want out of the email and ask yourself if the email is what your subscriber will interact with. Think about the impact of losing 2 or 3 subscribers (especially if they are loyal customers) with each and every email. It may look good to you and them, but they may have neither the patience nor the inclination to figure it out.
Practicality and functionality should always be tested, but don’t ever mistake beauty for functionality.