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Granicus Employee

This is part of a series aimed at improving your outcomes with govDelivery emails. Keep an eye on govCommunity for more helpful and informative ideas.


Canva is a useful design tool for a wide range of people, for a wide range of purposes. But I have fielded a relatively large number of tickets asking “Why can’t I get my email template to look like my Canva design?” The answer is that the world of government email is not exactly the same as the world of Canva.


Email is not exactly the same as a lot of things that people sometimes like to try to get it to be like – Word, PDF, Webpage, Infographic, etc. – Email code is pretty specific and kind of strict, often confusing, and almost always filled with challenges. But there is a middle ground. You can come up with a great design in Canva, and then use it to inspire and drive your email template setup and design. If you remember a few key things, you will be able to get your emails to look a little closer to your beautiful Canva designs.


Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Don’t rely on background images. They are not universally supported (Outlook) and they don’t display when someone doesn’t download images by default. Use background images as a bonus, and make your email look good with or without them. If you have a key graphic as a background image, try to pull it out and work it into your design as a normal image.

  2. Keep things in their containers – don’t overlap or overlay elements. There isn’t really a way to layer or overlap things in an email, everything has to be within the bounds of the container that it lives in.

  3. Try to use live text instead of baking text into a graphic. This can sometimes be a challenge if you want an especially dramatic banner graphic with words on it, but this is more about accessibility and ensuring your audience can most easily consume your content. It is current WCAG 2.1 AA guidance to use live text whenever possible.

To help you better understand these tips, here are a couple of comparisons. On the left is what it looks like in Canva, and on the right is what it can look like in a well-formatted email.



The Canva version has elements overlapping, and is using a background image as a key graphic. The Email version has the elements in their own containers, and has a dedicated section for the banner text, live text on a background color, just above a captivating image – it seems like the text is over a background image, but it is actually live text on a background color.


Another example where the Canva version has a couple of elements overlapping. The email version here simply puts things in their own container. If you look at both of these examples, the Email version looks so close to the Canva version that it can be hard to tell them apart.

It's great to use Canva to create email designs. There are just a small handful of things to keep in mind to understand how it can work well as an email.

As always we are always happy to work with you to get your email templates looking how you want them to. Connect with our great support team here to get closer to what you are looking for.


About the Author

Huck Tate is a govDelivery expert at Granicus, who spends much of his time helping Granicus customers design beautiful and effective email templates.