Email Design and Development

client: Virgin Experience Days


With open rates of Virgin Experience Days emails increasing rapidly on mobile, we wanted to ensure we were offering the best viewing experience.


I decided very early on to take a card style based layout for the design. This would ensure all different parts, no matter how they were put together, would work well with each other.

I paid very close attention to how I wanted it to look on mobile, to give great readability.


The Digital Team use Campaign Monitor to build their newsletters, so firstly did a bit of research into their templating language.

I decided I could use Middleman with ruby partials to seperarte out sections of code into the repeaters that they'd actually be in with the template. This would keep my code clean and easier to read and manage.

To get some consistancy in the code as a quick start, i used a stripped back version of foundations Ink framework that i've used on other email builds. I'm not making use of any of the grid or layout features of this, only the key parts to overwrite client defaults.

Everything's been built to be very modular and give the Digital team as much freedom as possible and experiment with what works for them and what doesn't.

I've open-sourced the starting code base incase anyone wants a quick headstart in email development.


As with all email design, there's always challenges with getting the experience the same across all email clients of different devices. It was sometimes quite hard to find out exactly what the issue was as there's no quick way to emulate mail clients through the browser. So we used Campaign Monitors built in Design Testing tools to test in various mail clients. I think an easier solution would have been to use something like Litmus for testing, but got to work with the tools / services available to you!


We have seen some immediate improvements to these emails such as an increase in click through rates. One big improvement is the amount of times the ‘Link to web-based version of this email’ was clicked. This is the link at the top of all our emails that allows the user to open the email in a web browser rather than in their email client. Before the new template we would see 8-11% of clicks on this link, since the new design has gone live this number has dropped to 3-4% showing our emails are much more mobile friendly.

We also got featured in campaignmonitor's Top 100 Email Campaigns for 2015 next to brands like Airbnb and Adidas.

direct link to Virgin Experience Days feature


Along with redesigning and developing our marketing based emails, we also did the same to all our transitional based emails to ensure consistancy across all our email activity.