Litmus Builder Essentials: Getting to Know Our Email Builder0
Getting to know any new software application can be an arduous task. Even the most well-thought out and beautifully designed interface can be overwhelming to beginners, making the process of getting started a bit of a challenge.
Litmus Builder lets you quickly build and test on the email clients that matter most to your audience, and utilize reusable HTML and CSS code snippets and pre-tested templates to reduce errors and maintain brand consistency. It’s an ideal solution for individuals and teams alike that are looking to dramatically increase their productivity throughout the email creative process. It’s chock-full of features and tools to improve your workflow, and we want to make sure you’re comfortable with all of them.
With that in mind, we’re kicking off a three-part series on the essentials of using Litmus Builder. In Part I (which you’re reading right now), we’ll discuss creating new documents, setting up preferences, and the Builder interface. Part II and Part III will focus on coding, testing, and improving team workflows using Builder.
Let’s get started and look at how Litmus Builder can help you in your own email marketing.
Starting a new document
When first accessing Litmus Builder, you’re presented with the Builder Dashboard, which is where you will find all of your Builder projects. Projects are collections of HTML emails and are handy for organizing different types of emails for different purposes (e.g. marketing vs. transactional) or collecting specific emails together, like all of your weekly newsletters for a specific month. The Dashboard looks like this:
You can sort your projects using the filters at the top and can even search for specific projects, which can be helpful if you do a lot of different email marketing campaigns. To start a new project, press the green Create a new project button in the top right. You’ll see a modal pop open that allows you to fill out some information about your project. Builder allows you to:
- Copy/paste your code into a new project (this comes in handy when you’d like to reuse code from another email, for example).
- Write your HTML from scratch using an empty HTML file or one of a number of built-in, pre-tested templates we provide for you.
- Set a project name for easily identifying a project (which is super helpful for teams).
Once you have set up your project and pasted in any code needed, press the green Start testing button to open up Builder and get to work!
While Builder looks simple at first glance, it contains a number of powerful tools for speeding up email development, testing, and sharing. Let’s say we created a blank HTML document in our project. Here’s what you’ll see:
Builder has three main sections in the workspace, which I’ve numbered above.
- The sidebar is used for navigating between multiple emails in a project, creating new emails, and uploading assets, like your images, for your emails.
- The code editor is where you write HTML and CSS for an email. It has a lot of features built-in to make development as easy as possible. We’ll look at these in-depth in the next post.
- The preview pane allows you to view previews of your email in 70+ different email clients, view changes in real time as you code, navigate your code using the Grid View, and toggle images on and off.
You’ll also see a menu bar and toolbars above the code editor and preview pane. While we’ll dig into these toolbars more in the next post, let’s get familiar with the different options (and all of those icons) in the menu bar.
The menu bar
The menu bar is where you can access Builder-specific settings as well as take certain actions on your open email and Builder project. Here’s everything you can do using the four options on the left side of the menu bar:
The File menu allows you to create and save emails, download the currently open email, and access the Settings menu. It also exposes a few helpful keyboard shortcuts for common Builder actions.
The Edit menu allows you to select code within the code editor.
The Find menu lets you search through the code of your currently open email. You can Find specific words or elements within your code, find the Next and Previous elements from your search, and even Replace your search terms with updated text. Getting familiar with the Find keyboard shortcuts and functionality is a great way to speed up your development workflow.
Finally, the View menu allows you to quickly increase or decrease the code editor font size without digging into the Settings menu, as well as open and close the sidebar, which is helpful when coding. Closing the sidebar gives the code editor extra screen real estate—which makes working on email code much more comfortable.
Setting Builder preferences
As mentioned previously, the File menu allows you to access the Settings panel. The Settings panel is where you can customize the Builder code editor to your tastes, as well as take advantage of some of the powerful tools that Builder has to offer.
Builder ships with a number of different color schemes which can be applied to the code editor. Using the Switch your theme dropdown, you can choose the color scheme which best suits your preferred coding style. There are a variety of both light and dark themes available, with the classic Space Gray being the default.
The Font size dropdown lets you pick a comfortable font size for the text editor. While the default 14px size works for most people, you can choose a larger (or smaller) font size to make reading text easier when building your email campaigns.
The other three toggles allow you to turn specific Builder features on and off. Inline CSS allows you to separate your HTML and CSS (which can make development easier) and compile it automatically. We’ll see how this works in the next article in the Litmus Builder Essentials series. Auto-complete adds the ability to view a list of options for common HTML elements when coding. You can scroll through the list and select an element, which is then added to your code. Finally, the Close tags option enables the automatic closing of any open HTML tags within your document, ensuring that no rogue open tags affect the rendering of your email campaign.
Builder settings are account-specific, which is perfect for teams. Different team members can save their own personal preferences, without the fear of overriding those sets by others.
All those little icons
While we’ve covered the text options in the menu bar, you may be asking yourself, “What the heck are all of those little icons in the top right?” Moving from left to right…
The Templates icon gives you access to a library of pre-built and pre-tested HTML email templates which can be used in your own email campaigns. These serve as an excellent base on which to build your own emails, allowing you to quickly customize design elements and copy before sending to your own subscribers.
The Snippets icon opens the snippets manager. Snippets are saved bits of code that can be pulled into any Builder document using shortcuts. Snippets let you build more reliable email campaigns faster, especially as a team, than ever before.
The Subject Line Checker allows you to check your sender name, subject line, and even preview text in real-time in 15+ different email clients. See which combinations work best in different inboxes, check out the latest preview text hacks, and avoid any embarrassing mistakes before sending.
The Timeline lets you view a complete history of changes to your Builder document. You can see who changed what when and even roll back your code to a previous version—handy for those times when you’re so far in the weeds that you need to start over.
The Tracking Manager automates the addition of any analytics tracking code to links within your email, saving you the trouble of manually copying and pasting tracking codes to every URL in a campaign.
Sync to ESP, which is available on all paid Litmus plans, takes your entire email (and any recent changes) and pushes it directly to your ESP. Stop copying and pasting between two open tabs after every update and quickly update your ESP directly from within Builder with the push of a button.
Finally, the Share icon opens the sharing menu, which gives you a variety of ways to share your email with your team, any stakeholders, and even send yourself a test campaign for viewing on your own devices. You can also generate an embed of your email for use in blog posts, Community discussions, or anywhere else on the web, like this one:
Get started with Builder today
Now that you’re comfortable with Builder’s interface, why not take it for a spin? It’s the only code editor built specifically for email professionals and one of the most powerful ways to speed up your workflow, all while ensuring the highest quality standards in your own campaigns.
Try Litmus for 7 days and see how Builder can make your life easier.
Get to know Litmus Builder
Quickly build and test on the email clients that matter most to your audience, and utilize reusable HTML and CSS code snippets and pre-tested templates to reduce errors and maintain brand consistency.
Learn More in our Litmus Builder Essentials Series
- You are here: Litmus Builder Essentials, Part I: Getting to Know Our Email Builder
- Litmus Builder Essentials, Part II: Developing in Our Email Builder
- Litmus Builder Essentials, Part III: How Teams Can Use Litmus Builder
- Litmus Builder Essentials, Part IV: Best Practices for Creating HTML Email Templates in Builder