Design your digital content

Applies to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps version 9.x

Dynamics 365 provides an advanced digital-content designer for creating, styling, and previewing the various types of digital content that you can produce and manage with the system, including:

The designer features a drag-and-drop interface for building and working with the design, plus an optional HTML editor for working directly with code and a preview tool that can show how your design will look on various form factors and orientations.

The designer adapts itself to your current context (email, landing page, and so on) to provide only those design elements and settings that apply there, but its basic functionality remains the same. It also provides a "foreign content mode", which is activated if you paste HTML from a third-party application directly into the HTML code editor; in this case, the designer 0 know which type of content you are designing and therefore hides context-specific features and provides a more generic design interface.

This topic describes how to work with the designer in general, in all contexts. For more information about how the designer fits into the various specific contexts, and for details specific to just one context, see the topics linked in the list at the start of this introduction.

Start by choosing a template

Most non-template entities that provide the content designer also support templates, so when you first create a marketing email, page, or form, you'll be asked to choose a template.

Select an Email Template window

The template picker provides many controls for searching, sorting, and filtering the templates. Use these controls to find templates that might meet your requirements, then select a template to see a preview and more details about it in the Preview area. When you've found the right template, select Select to apply it to your new design.

The template you choose will initiate your design by establishing the following:

  • Column layout: Sets the basic layout, such as one-column, two-column, and so on. To change this later, you'll need to use the HTML code editor; the graphical editor doesn't provide tools to change the column layout.
  • Page or form type: If you're creating a marketing page or form, this tells whether the page is a subscription center, forward-to-a-friend, or landing page and establishes the basic capabilities of the page or form.
  • Sample design and content: Some templates already include basic design elements, such as logos, typography, color palette, sample content, and more. Other templates provide a blank page that includes only the page type and column layout. You can freely change the sample design and content as you edit and design the page.

After you've chosen a template, the designer shows your selected template content and you can start editing it. Your new email, page, or form is created as a simple copy of the template, so any local changes you make won't affect the template, and any future changes to a template won't affect anything you created based on it.

Work with the designer

Most of the time you spend creating a marketing email, page, or form, you'll be using the designer or the HTML editor to add content, configure design elements, load images, apply styles, and more.

The designer toolbar and content area

The designer features a toolbar and a content area. The toolbar provides a few basic commands and three navigation tabs (Design, HTML, and Preview), which control what you can see and do in the content area.

Use the graphical designer

Choose Designer in the designer toolbar to open the graphical designer. It lets you assemble and design your content without using any code at all. In most cases, you'll never need to go to the HTML view unless you want to.

The designer canvas and toolbox

The graphical designer provides an editable preview (canvas), where you can select, edit, or remove content; and a set of tabs for adding design elements and working with the design:

  • Toolbox: To add a new design element to your design, drag an element from here to an appropriate place in the canvas. Each design element represents a specific type of content, such as a text element, image, or input form. The settings and features of each design element vary by type.
  • Properties: Most design elements need to be configured to work. For example, an image needs to point to an image file, a form needs to point to a marketing-form record, and a button needs some text and a destination. When you add a new design element, that element is automatically selected and its Properties tab opens so you can set it up. To configure (or reconfigure) any design element already in your design, select it first, and then open the Properties tab.
  • Style: Use these settings to apply color, spacing, and other graphical options for the overall design.

More information: Design elements reference

Work directly in HTML

If you prefer to work directly with HTML code, open the designer's HTML tab. You might do this to touch up a few properties that you can't get to by using the graphical editor, or you might paste in HTML code that you created by using some other program. You could also add advanced scripts and styling to introduce new functionality. For example, if you're designing a marketing page, you might write scripts to implement the following features:

  • Change the properties of one field (or form) based on the values of another field, for example:
    • Make the Customer No. field visible only if Existing customer is true.
    • Make the Customer No. required if Existing customer is true.
    • Clear the State address field if the Country field is changed.
    • Change the list of State values based on the country chosen.
    • Change the styles of fields to make them visible, required, and so on.
  • Add custom field-value validations (either when the form is submitted or the field value is changed), such as requiring that Customer No has only six digits.
  • Perform actions on form load or submission, such as:
    • Hide certain fields by default
    • Disable the submit button until all mandatory fields are filled
    • Set field values based on values passed in the calling URL
    • Set field values based on values passed in the calling URL.

Be careful when working here, though, because the graphical editor expects specific types of markup to implement its drag-and-drop elements. Without this markup, you won't be able to edit your design elements any more and might even break them. More information: Use custom attributes to enable designer features in emails, pages, and forms

The HTML editor provides a few handy code-editing features such as syntax coloring and line numbers. You can also apply formatting to add line breaks and indents to make the code more readable; to do this, right-click anywhere in the editor and select Format document from the context menu.

Preview your design

Though the drag-and-drop editor provides an editable preview, this preview is still just an approximation, and includes a few compromises in its presentation to allow for its editing features. To get a better idea of how your design will look, go to the designer's Preview tab.

Preview mode selector

Use the buttons in the left column of the Preview tab to see how your design will look on different screen sizes and orientations, such as desktop, tablet landscape, or mobile portrait. The preview also reflects the responsive design features built into many of the templates. However, the preview doesn't run any custom scripts you might have added (such as for validating form input).


Marketing email messages can be trickier to design than webpages because they typically contain dynamic content, and email clients vary much more widely in the way they render HTML. Therefore, Dynamics 365 provides a few extra features for previewing your emails that aren't available for marketing pages or forms. These include sample contact records, a choice of content settings, and an advanced inbox preview. More information: Check your work with previews and test sends

See also

Accessibility and keyboard shortcuts
Design elements reference
Prepare marketing email messages
Work with email, page, and form templates
Create and deploy marketing pages
Accessibility and keyboard shortcuts
Go live with publishable entities and track their status