Table of Contents

Using the Email Designer

Rob Howard Updated by Rob Howard

The Email Designer is a drag-and-drop design canvas used to more easily build and design beautiful emails. We put together this guide to help you understand how to use the DailyStory Email Designer.

Overview 

The Email Designer has 4 main sections:

  1. Top menu bar - includes the name of the email, buttons and more options
  2. Design Canvas - the area where design widgets are placed
  3. Widget Menu - widgets that are drag-and-dropped onto the Design Canvas
  4. Save buttons - buttons for saving, copying and more

Top menu bar

The top menu bar displays the name of the email you are editing and also show contextual buttons.

The contextual buttons shown in the top menu bar will change when widgets on the design canvas are selected.

  • Undo a previous action, e.g. undo removing a widget from the canvas.
  • Redo a previous action, e.g. remove a widget from the canvas.
  • Revisions provide access to previous revisions of the email that may be restored.
  • Select None unselects any widgets selected on the design canvas clicking Select None will unselect the widget.
  • Remove a widget that is currently selected on the design canvas.
A selected widget may also be removed by clicking the trash can or pressing the delete button when the item is selected..
  • Edit HTML opens the HTML editor for editing the HTML, CSS, Plain Text, and AMP content of the email.
Be cautious making direct changes to the HTML of the email in the HTML designer. Emails built with the designer are optimized for multiple devices and screen sizes. Change to CSS, Plain Text, and AMP may be done safely.
  • Preview opens a preview of the email in a separate browser tab.
  • Send Test sends a test version of the email to an email address you provide.

Design Canvas

The Design canvas is where widgets are placed or selected by dragging-and-dropping them from the Widget Menu.

Select a widget on the design canvas

When moving the mouse over the canvas a blue box will highlight widgets. To select the highlighted widget click on the widget. When the widget is selected it is outlined and a contextual toolbar is shown on the top right of the widget:

There are multiple types of widgets in the designer that may be selected. In the above example, a button container widget is selected. You can also select the individual button in the container.

Widget toolbar
  • Up arrow selects the parent of the widget
  • Cross arrows enable click-and-drag to move the widget
  • Copy create a copy of the widget
  • Trash remove the widget

Remove a widget from the design canvas

A selected widget is removed from the canvas by clicking the trash icon or pressing the delete button.

Some widgets cannot be selected or removed.

Add a widget to the design canvas

To add a widget drag-and-drop it from the Widgets menu on the right.

If the widgets menu is not available, click "Select None".

When a widget is dragged on to the design canvas the parent widget where the widget is placed is highlighted in yellow and a green bar indicates where the widget will be placed.

Email Designer drag-and-drop

Widgets Menu 

The Widgets Menu displays design widgets that can be added to the Design Canvas by dragging-and-dropping to place them on the design canvas.

The Widget Menu display area changes when a widget is selected in the Design Canvas and may display additional options.

See email designer widgets for details on individual widgets.

Widgets with Custom Menus

When selected, some widgets will replace the Widget Menu with options specific to that widget.

Text / HTML widget

The Text / HTML widget is the most commonly used widget in the email designer. Use it for simple text or custom HTML.

When selected the Text Section widget opens a rich text editor in place of the Widget Menu.

Content is written or copy/pasted into the rich editor and is updated in the Design Canvas.

Content that is copy/pasted is stripped of any special information, such as bolding or links. While inconvenient when copying rich text, this prevents unnecessary HTML from accidentally getting added.

The Text / HTML contains common buttons that should be familiar: font family, font size, font color, bold, italics, bulleted list, numbered list, link, and image. To use these items, first select the text, then click the appropriate button.

You may notice that the Style tab is still accessible when using the rich editor. The style tabs setting apply to everything in the rich editor. Whereas within the text you can select individual portions of content to change color, font size and more.

While it is possible to use an image inside the Text / Content widget this should only be used when trying to accomplish a design that requires special formatting of the image and surrounding text. Otherwise, a standard Image widget should be used.

There are two icons in the Text / HTML editor that are unique: the lightbulb and the code icon: lightbulb and code.

Dark mode

The lightbulb will switch the editor to dark mode. This is useful when working with light text:

When using dark mode the background color displayed in the editor does not affect the text in the email designer.

Edit HTML

Using the Text / HTML widget enables you to edit or insert custom HTML directly into the designer.

Editing the direct HTML should only be done if you understand and are comfortable with HTML.

To edit the HTML simply click on the code button. This will open a popup where HTML may be directly edited:

Image widget

When selected the Image widget opens a set of image specific options in place of the Widget Menu:

Within the image widget you can link the image to a URL (recommended). As well as set a title, which is also recommended.

At the bottom of the menu you'll find buttons that control how the image behaves on different screen sizes:

  • Full width will attempt to display the image at full with. Most images should be set to full width.
  • Current size will ensure that the widget remains at the current specified width and height. Caution should be used with this setting and we recommend only using current size when working with an image less than 600px wide.
  • Hide will hide the image when displayed on mobile devices. This can be useful for creating more compact mobile versions of the email.

To set the dimensions of the image, click the style tab and set the width and height.

It is recommended that the image width is set to 100% unless the image is less than 600px wide. When set to a percentage the image can scale up-and-down for various screen sizes.

Video widget

When selected the Video widget opens a set of video specific options in place of the Widget Menu:

  • Video URL is the URL to the video. When set, DailyStory will replace the default Video widget in the Design Canvas with a preview of your image.

Embedded videos are not supported in most email clients. When a video is selected DailyStory will automatically create a placeholder image for the video within your email. This is supported for video URLs from YouTube and Vimeo.

Styling Widgets

When a widget is selected the Widgets menu the Style tab is used to set style details about the selected widget. These options will change based on the type of widget selected.

  • Font family the font used for text, e.g. Helvetica
  • Font size the size of the font, e.g. 20px
  • Font weight the weight of the font, e.g. bold
  • Line height the spacing between lines, e.g. 24px
  • Color the color of the text, e.g. #FFCC2A
  • Background color the background color of the widget, e.g. #FFFFFF
  • Text align the alignment of the content in the widget, e.g. center
  • Padding the whitespace surrounding the widget, e.g. 15px
  • Width the width of the widget, e.g. 100%
  • Height the height of the widget, e.g. 250px
  • Min width the minimum width of the widget, e.g. 100px
  • Min height the minimum height of the widget, e.g. 100px
  • Max width the maximum width of the widget, e.g. 500px
  • Max height the maximum height of the widget, e.g. 500px
Some style values, such as Min and Max height and width are not supported by Microsoft Outlook.

Recommendation when possible, use percentages to express image dimensions. This enables the  email to scale based on the size of the client, such as mobile devices.

Creating a new email using the Designer

The Email Designer is built to support working with pre-made email templates or building new emails 100% in the designer.

If you are working with a pre-existing HTML template for your emails. This email should be created as a new Email Template. Furthermore, HTML elements within the template can use special mark up to identify which HTML sections are editable and which are not.

Start with Rows

The Email Designer uses Rows to control layout of a section of an email. And a new row should be used for each major section.

Rows are dragged-and-dropped on to the design canvas. In the screenshot below, 3 rows are added to the design canvas.

Each row can have separate backgrounds, padding, and other settings.

A row displays the text "Please add content" when now widgets are added to the row.

Next, drag-and-drop widgets onto the rows. For example, a graphic for the top row and a graphic and text for the middle row, and social icons for the bottom row.

How did we do?

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Email Designer Widgets

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