I've designed hundreds of email signatures now and consulted with many companies as they design and develop their new signature. Designing an email signature is one of those things that can be deceptively complicated! Take it from me and read through this list of 10 mistakes that I see designers and marketing teams make most often as they plan their email signature:
1. Font sizes too large
One of the most common mistakes I see when looking at email signatures is not putting enough thought into font sizes. In general font sizes should be about the same as the typical text in the email. Slightly smaller or slightly larger is fine, but should be used carefully. Most default text sizes in an email are about 12px - 14px. It's common for the sender's name to be a bit larger and bolder, so maybe up to 16px or so would be fine, but it certainly doesn't need to be 24px, that would be awkward and stick out far too much. Consider using bolder fonts, all uppercase letters, or a different color to visually highlight information in the signature rather than simply making the text size gigantic.
2. Images too large
Since many of us have fast internet it can be easy to forget that others aren't able to have the same download speeds. You should carefully consider each image and whether it is necessary and optimized before you include it in an email signature. A logo or a profile picture are both good candidates to include in an email signature. We recommend resizing the images to only 2x the width and height they are included at. So if a logo is set at 150x80 pixels, then the dimensions of the image should be 300x160 pixels. Its far too easy to drop in large, print-ready files that are 5 megabytes or more, which can make it frustratingly slow to download. The good news is that tools like our email signature generator will automatically resize images for you! Designers also love to include animated GIF's into signatures, but beware that these can often balloon their file size much larger than you would expect!
3. Using an image for the whole signature
Some designers get frustrated with the limitations of designing email signatures, throw up their hands, and just encourage clients to drop in an image that includes graphics as well as text. This is a mistake! These signatures are not useful for the receiver of your emails. They can't copy and paste your name, phone number or address. And they cannot click on the links to visit your website or social media profiles. The other problem is that sometimes upon replying or forwarding an email, images within an email signature can go missing (read our article about missing images), while this is mostly unavoidable, its far better to be left with the useful information in the signature with no images than nothing at all!
4. Not mobile friendly
Did you know that up to 50% of emails are now read on mobile devices? It's true! If you don't know if your email signature looks good on mobile devices, that is one of the first things you should check! Unfortunately its not possible to make an email signature mobile responsive, but it is possible to design it in such a way that you make it look good across all screen sizes. Need more detail? Read more in our article about mobile email signatures.
5. Too many colors
Like any good design, choosing a color palette for your email signature is important. Consider choosing only one or two colors alongside the base text color of grey or black. If you start to include too many colors it can be highly distracting and can make reading the (arguably more important) email contents hard to focus on as the recipient's eye will get distracted by the signature below. By limiting your colors your design will appear more refined and be more visually appealing without needing to scream for attention.
6. Not dark mode friendly
Too many designers forget that a large portion of mobile readers (and even some on desktop) keep their device in "dark mode". This can mean that instead of a white background for an email signature it can become a grey or black background (depending on the email program). If you include a transparent logo with text in black, then your company name may become invisible in dark mode! While there isn't special code you can add to fix this, there are some strategies we talk about to handle this in our article about dark mode in email signatures.
7. Too much "stuff"
When you are excited about designing your first email signature, it can be easy to start adding too many elements simply because you can. But good design is always an exercise in limitations. It's not a bad thing to include an image, social media icons, banners, a customer quote, or a legal disclaimer in your email signature, but it is a bad thing to include all of them! Choose the most important contact information (do you really need that fax number?) and then at most add one more thing, like a banner or social media icons.
8. Not applied consistently across your company
Many businesses do not spend the effort to provide their staff an official email signature. They permit everyone to add their own "artistic touch" to their signature, which led to numerous branding blunders. Or sometimes a business may suffer from the "telephone game" of copying and pasting, where a signature is repeatedly passed from one person to another and gradually loses fonts, styles, or entire sections. (That's where our personalized generating links are useful!) A lack of organization within a corporation can be inferred from a lack of consistency. You wouldn't want a potential customer to doubt the caliber of your services as a result of this poor first impression.
9. Too many links
Beware of how many links you include and the reputation of those links, as it can affect your email deliverability! Too many links is a signal to spam filters that an email may be sketchy. In addition, many spam filters will inspect each link and sometimes even look at the content of the link before delivering the email. If one of the domains you link to has been blacklisted by Google or other web authorities, or the content of the page is deemed sketchy or spammy, then your email will surely land in spam or never reach the inbox at all.
10. Too long of legal disclaimer
Lawyers love disclaimers, and lets be honest: it's hard to argue with the legal team. That said, if they are deemed necessary, then legal disclaimers should be as short as possible. One short paragraph should be all that is necessary to communicate the important elements of the disclaimer. If it needs to be longer then consider adding a link to your website with additional information. Multiple long paragraphs of text is frustrating for email recipients and never actually read.
If you don't have an email signature yet, or its just badly in need of a refresh, try out our tool Signature.email. You can start with one of our professionally designed templates, and then use our advanced drag and drop editor to create any kind of email signature. You can change fonts, colors, spacing and add or remove the fields from the signature, making something that uniquely represents you or your company. If you just need some inspiration, check out our creative email signature designs to get the ideas going.