Thursday, July 8, 2010

Email Signature Guidelines for the Peoples on Intertubes

Don't do this

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted (again), but I was designing two websites and whatever.

Email signatures
Email signatures are an issue, straight up. Most signatures cause some serious problems across the intertubes and the ever passive aggressive world of corporate america. So here are some do's and don't's, some best practices, and a quick guideline to making the best friggin email signature EVER!

Number 1 - No images, seriously
Yeah sorry, nope, no images. That means no image of your actual hand written signature, no company logos, no kitten pics, and no animated gifs (which I do love and are hilarious, but only in IM's). There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, you run the risk of having your email blocked by spam filters. Spam filters are just not that great and they see an image and freakout and will put your address on the junk list which is the modern day equivalent of being blacklisted. You don't want that. Second, images take up tons of space over time. A 2K image sent one time is no biggie, but thousands of times by thousands of employees can equal up to 2 gigs a day of transferred information, almost a terabyte a year just because of that little image.

Number 2 - K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid)
Since now you can't have any images, all you're left with is text and special characters to style your signature. Don't take this an an opportunity to use a hundred asterisks to separate your name from everything else or taste the rainbow and OD on color to the max. Ideally you probably shouldn't use color at all. Any links you have may show up underlined in blue and if your name is in red, bam, you're halfway over the rainbow (not good in this case). Stick to using black and shades of grey to help establish visual hierarchy. And don't use more than one font. The typeface you use in the body should be the typeface used in the signature. Use bold or all caps to give weight, stay away from italics, they're bad, berry berry bad *finger pointing*.

Number 3 - Keep it short (stupid)
Eliminate every extraneous item of information that you can. If you don't fax things anymore, get rid of your fax number. If someone REALLY needs to fax you, they can call or email you. Get rid of your networking links, nobody cares really, and if they do, they'll ask. So that means your twitter account, linkedin profile, facebook url, skype name, aim name, etc. Quotes, delete those immediately, it's embarrassing just mentioning quotes, ewgh *shivers*. Really keep it to your name, title, company name, address, number(s), the url, and THAT'S IT. If you need certain information that pertinent to your profession like your twitter account cuz your're a social media expert (which is a fake job btw - UPDATE - ok, not a fake job, just a very new one ok?) then fine add it, but only if you really need to.

Number 4 - Follow the rules
If your company has specific instructions for how to create and use your signature, FOLLOW THEM. This is not your big chance to stick out in the world and make a stand against the unjust evils of corporate slavery. If the company signature is black, don't make yours blue. Don't bold your name if it's not supposed to be. Don't grey out your title, even if it IS Waste Allocation Technician (pretty sure garbage men don't have emails, nevermind). Just stick to the damn rules, even if it means that the email signature is long and has an image, there's plenty of time to showcase your unique and delicate personality in passive aggressive emails about refilling ice trays. More important that you and your company show consistency. It communicates that you're an organized, collaborative, responsible company that would never put their clients on mute in a conference call to bad mouth them.

Example of a great email signature

Other little tip nugglers:
Don't use a VCard, that's just lame, nobody does that anyway. HTML, don't do it, half the time it won't be read and you don't want your emails to look like 100 lines of code. Use web safe fonts. You really only have the choice of these fonts: Arial, Georgia, Lucida, Tahoma, Times, Trebuchet, and Verdana. Don't use Times, it looks like crap, and don't even joke about Comic Sans, he'll git cha.

So, if you follow these guidelines it'll make for probably the most BORING email signature in the world, but if you're using an email signature to express really anything, you've got much bigger problems. Hopefully this helped you create your email signature, and if in the future, if we're allowed to have supertastic swirling video exploding email signatures while avoiding seizures and spam filters, then nevermind.

P.S. If you've got extra time, read the email in the image above, I wrote it, pretty sweet crazy cat lady story imo.


zaaylo said...

Really cool sharing... its good tips helpful to newbies.

Thanks for sharing...

Chip said...

Anytime Zaaylo. Awesome non-name btw. I think my new name should be Xiibolt.

Deirdre said...

that letter is hi-larious. inspired.

Anonymous said...

Is Social Media Specialist a made up job because you're terrible at it (I noticed your small amount of people following you on Twitter, and your few contacts on LinkedIn)? Maybe if you had a Social Media Specialist, you would be able to connect with more people and have more influence on those around you.

Sadly, you're wrong.

Chip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Jones said...

Hey Chip,

Awesome fake cat-lover email. Loving your work here in Australia! I keep laughing, thinking about the "mother's hair" line.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for making me smile. I'm currently writing company guidelines for our email signature - I so wish I could just copy and paste this - sadly i don't think it would go down to seel with the big wigs!

Anonymous said...

seel = well - Doh!

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