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I'm working on an article to help email marketers understand how email templates should be built-up. I would like to clarify the difference between layout and structure as clearly as possible.

How would you explain the difference between layout and structure?

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To me structure can be kind of a generic word. You probably mean something like content structure? Below is how I would explain the differences between these two.

Content structure can answer questions like:

  • How many paragraphs do we want?
  • What should be said first/last?
  • Is this information going to be a list or a table?
  • Are we going to put this information in the email or behind a link?

Layout can answer questions like:

  • What size and where should the images be?
  • What kind of grid are we going to use? How big should the margins be?
  • Should we add whitespace between these paragraphs? How much?

I think this Wikipedia article was pretty good, especially the chapter "Design elements and choices". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_layout

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I would ask a marketer how they talk about layout and structure, what word they use for those. And write the article based on their industry term.

You can still start the article with a clear definition for each to clear any doubts, but being more in-tune with their mental model will help comprehension.

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I think...

Layout: Arranging of the elements in the appropriate manner based on the frequency, importance and also considering page real estate.

Structure: Is all about defining / building a story (which talks about the workflows)

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For a layman, we can say that - Layout is the look and feel of the webpage i.e., overall appearance. - Structure is the order in which the components are placed on that webpage which when put together feels connected.

Layout and Structure of a website should remain consistent across the website for a user to have same feeling while surfing.

In case of email templates structural changes are done very often depending on the seasonal promotions but layout remains the same.

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It's the difference between an idea and the expression of an idea. The structure is the mental model, what we are trying to say — the taxonomy ideas. Layout is how those ideas are represented on the page or screen or wherever.

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I always give the example of a house. When building a house, the shape of the house, ie 4 walls and a roof is the structure. Picking where the bathroom and kitchen go is the layout.

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I think you need to be careful that you are not actually trying to separate two things that are actually very closely related.

In the context of an email template, structure can refer to the hierarchy or logic in which different elements on the page are designed or built. In an ideal world, the layout, which is commonly used to refer where and how things are positioned in a given space, should match the structure.

However, as the layout is generally used to specifically refer to the visible elements on a screen (and sometimes in the implementation of the design a different structure might be applied due to technical constraints), there are times when they will not match.

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