You've probably heard of the saying "Form follows function." In email, the saying would be "Design follows data."
In other words, the data you plan to use in a campaign, whether a stand-alone email campaign or as part of a nurture series or journey email, should dictate the set-up and design of that email, instead of the other way around.
Want to use dynamic content in your emails? Have reliable data first
Let's say you've heard a lot about dynamic content, and so you go to your email development team and say, "Can you design me a template for dynamic content now? We can figure out the back end later."
The short answer: No. Design cannot run ahead of the back-end development of dynamic content because the data or data files might not be reliable.
Email design needs to accommodate "graceful degradation" – a design term that means an email is designed for the viewing clients that support its features and has fallbacks built in...