Modernizing email development
Modernizing email development
Alas, despite being a fundamental part of nowadays everyday life, email technology seems to be stuck in 1988!
Three main reasons for this (as explained in this article) are:
1. There are a lot of moving parts to consider
When developing emails, there are a vast range of providers, devices, settings and clients to take into account. Developers must consider which email client a viewer may be leveraging (gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com), whether they're accessing email through a third-party application (Apple Mail, Thunderbird) and the type of device they're using to view the email (desktop computer, tablet, mobile device). All of these viewing iterations are made even more complex by the fact that each email provider supports different CSS options!
2. There is no magic rule or quick fix
The hardest hurdle to traverse when it comes to email development is the fact that there's no single CSS comprehension rule that can be broadly applied across all email providers. For instance, background images work on everything except certain versions of Outlook, while padding only works on certain tags. Gmail excludes any styles that are not inline, which renders conventional CSS useless. The only way to juggle the CSS nuances of each provider is to test each email template you create before sending it out to your contact base.
3. Viewers have control over display preferences
Most email providers give users the option of not automatically displaying email images. That means that, by default, any images in an email will show as an empty box with unstyled, alt-content messages inside — not very eye-catching or compelling. Unless you have a handful of friends with different mobile devices willing to give you some much-needed viewer feedback, it can be difficult to ensure that an email is appearing correctly across different mobile devices. Though media queries (code that adapts the layout of emails and web pages according to the width of the user's window or device) can help iron out formatting inconsistencies between mobile devices, they can also lead to unintended issues if a user is viewing a desktop version of an email on their mobile device.
Also, email coding requires a lot of tables nested inside one another, each element with its own inline style, making what could easily be a one-liner into a 17 lines long code! As a beginner, I spent three months coding emails which, if they were normal web pages, I could have done in one or two weeks. Now I have more experience, but I still struggle and most of my colleagues around the world share the same frustration.
Concerning emails, security is of course a big issue, but this shouldn't stop us having the benefits of modern HTML and CSS rules, even if in a single file, without the hassle of having to code miles of complicated lines and to test our emails on tens of different devices, clients and applications.
Thank you in advance for your interest and support, however big or small it may be.