Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Images Off Review… Next Up, Online Travel

I’ve been taking screenshots of various emails I get that are using interesting design techniques for image-suppression, and noticed this mini, micro-trend with online travel companies. Both of them fail in the branding category. See how long it takes to figure out the sender (from the message, not the address!).

Hotwire Images Off

Same with this one:

Orbitz Images Off

If you think I’m being too nitpicky, compare it to this company’s images-off effort at branding:

REI Branding Example

For branding tips I’d say:
- Include your name in the upper left hand corner, via alt-text, or HTML text in a table, or just raw text. No other words in front of it. Note how, in a couple of places, REI just says “REI” or “REI …”. It’s easier to scan, so it stands out.
- Include your name in the from address clearly. Gmail really highlights the From address and Subject
- You can use HTML font styles to mimic logo restrictions, but unfortunately it’s only with installed fonts, so there’s not a lot of choice.


Other comments on the travel samples: Orbitz does the no-no of using light blue font color on top of a dark blue table background color. Looks like it’s styles applied to an image link, which then applies to the alt-text. In other places, looks like they have styles applied to links, so they just need to clean up their CSS and check all use cases (images-off, namely).

Another issue with Orbitz’s rendering is the spacer GIFs. I wish folks would be more conservative with the usage. It really distracts people from reading the copy that’s rather nicely placed here. Also, the menu header is done well, only thing to add is that there is a trend to not underline links, as it looks “cleaner” (but you underline on the hover). The CSS setup here is coloring the font white, so they could easily change the text-decoration. (You can tell I’ve been doing some CSS lately!)

Orbitz is doing a lot of things right: color use, with table background colors, does communicate brand to a degree, and having meaningful offer text as alt-text. Also, having a menu that is in text and using HTML tables and not just images. We’ve come really far since image suppression started full steam ahead, last Jan.


Not just to pick on Orbitz, Hotwire has the same blend of good and bad techniques. Good- nice clean layout without the overuse of spacer GIFs. A little bit of work with tables and they could manage the menu heading with out GIFs, but who knows, maybe that was a concession between an email marketer and a designer! I like the use of color, and HTML text for the heading.

The problems? The key would be branding, and alt-text. I have no idea what those images are, so I’m not going to be inclined to allow images. That’s a loss in metrics for Hotwire’s marketing folks, and probably a loss in images as a sales tool- especially key for travel where the photos fill the fantasy. So I’d put the offers in the alt-text, or allude to the photos with funny and clever alt-text. Besides avoiding spacer gifs, branding issues & alt-text, this is a great email design for images-off.

More posts on this topic on Adventures:
- Any posts I’ve written in Images-Off category (sorted by recency)
- Review, 10 Emails with Images Off earliest post I did on this topic

Other posts about branding and images-off:
- Stefan Pollard on ClickZ: Stefan Pollard
Use Brand-Recognition Elements to Combat Inbox Triage

- Images Off Cuts Down on Email Read Rates from 7/07 but still valid
- Vertical response has some great tips on designing for images off: Creating Your Email for Images Off”
Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports has a post that is a great round-up of articles on this topic
Image Blocking and Suppression
– Email provider MailChimp has some great screenshots of emails with images off: Campaign Preview With Images Off and On
– Great article on Contactology, Make emails look good in Gmail, 8 Tips for Designing with Images Off

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
Written on Wednesday, 12. March 2008 at 15:35 In the category design, images off. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Read the Comments. Trackbacks- Trackback on this post. Share on FriendFeed

«  –  »


  1. Your points were really impressive…a prominent branding really helps alot. Atleast it gives you a recall when you again see it.

    Comment: lisa – 12. March 2008 @ 10:18 pm

  2. [...] profiled some airline industry emails the other day. Today, I am writing about some do’s and don’t’s (mostly [...]

    Pingback: Adventures in Email Marketing » Simple Lessons from HR Newsletter | – 07. April 2008 @ 5:00 pm

Leave a comment

Recent Posts


Recent Comments


Recent Trackbacks


Follow Me

  • Add to Google

WP-Design: Vlad -- Powered by WordPress -- XHTML 1.0
© 1998 All Rights Reserved