Starting off a new design project can be difficult. In a lot of cases, there’s a period of to and fro between designer and client. Whether you’re in the initial planning stages, where new concepts and ideas are thrown about, or in the final stages, where tiny details are being tweaked before everything’s final, you’ll be going back and forth with your client dozens of times. There’s a number of ways you can exchange design ideas with your clients, but most of the time, you’ll end up working with email, even if you’d rather use an online design tool.
Welcome to Mail’ette. It’s a new web service that allows you to email in design proposals and have them formatted into a simple webpage to be shared with your clients. You can work with them from there, with built-in feedback and approval tools. Email may still be king, but it’ll make it much more useful for design work than before. Let’s take a tour!
Mail’ette is an email powered app, so its only prerequisite is a working email account, something I’m sure none of you lack. When you go through the setup process, you’ll then setup a subdomain that all your design proposals will be located at (with paid plans, you can also link up a custom domain to your account). You’ll also associate your email address with the account, which will be the address you use to send in new design proposals to Mail’ette.
If you upgrade to a paid plan, you can authorize more email addresses to create Mail’ette’s on your account, making teamwork over a single account a viable option. The paid upgrade comes in at $9/month or $78/year. Of course, the free option remains and is still a good enough solution for most people, albeit limited to just three Mail’ettes and no custom domain.
Then, once you’re all setup, you’ll be given a Mail’ette email address in your settings menu that’ll look something like firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll just send an email to that custom address when you’re ready to start a new Mail’ette project.
Creating a Design Proposal
When it’s time for you to create your design proposal, it’s as easy as sending off an email. Simply open your favorite email client, paste in your custom Mail’ette email address into the To field and attach your proposal files. Then, just hit the send button!
Soon after the email has been sent off, you’ll get a reply from Mail’ette with a link to the web-based, stylized version of your proposal. Included will be both a full form link, as well as a shortened one for added convenience. From there, you’re free to email off the link to a client or coworker and, when they click it, they’ll get access to the same file you just sent in.
Following Up and Feedback
Now it’s up to your client to view your design concept and get back to you. They can hit the tick icon in the app’s viewer to approved the design, and/or use the yellow commenting button to write their own feedback on the particular file, which will be accessible in your dashboard for later viewing.
As the designer, you can head to your dashboard to view the status of all your Mail’ette-shared design proposals. Here, you can easily grab the links to your design in the Mail’ette viewer, as well as quick links to social networks through sharing buttons. You can also toggle commenting, password protection, and sharpening of your uploaded images with the three toggle switch that live in the sidebar on the right. Below the copy of your files is where the feedback lives, available for your reading pleasure at a time convenient to you.
Something I’ve complained about with this kind of app before is that they generally don’t offer much in the way of customization. Fortunately, Mail’ette is different, and provides the ability to update your Mail’ette page’s background with an image. You can then modify the background of the image frame that borders your image if it’s less than 960px wide, and set the opacity of the image frame with a numerical value.
While Mail’ette is nicely designed, it ultimately doesn’t really add that much functionality to the design approval process. The app doesn’t make you gasp at your display and question yourself as to why you’ve been living without it for so long. It’s just nice, and makes your design proposals look and feel like they’ve had some real time spent on, instead of being merely an image attachment in a boring old email thread.
I don’t know whether I’d pay much for the app, honestly, since it doesn’t exactly add that much new to the experience of sending over design proposals, other than making them look a tad nicer. So, if you’re looking for a way to simplify getting design feedback in a nicely design app that integrates with email, this might be what you’re looking for. Otherwise, it might be more trouble than its worth.