Make Sure Your HTML Emails Are Being Viewed Correctly

By Allisyn Deyo, Webmaster, Mequoda Group

When you’re a designer or a developer working in a small company, you learn to look for bright ideas wherever you hear of them. Vitamin is one such idea. With the tagline “a resource for web designers, developers and entrepreneurs,” Vitamin is an excellent website for good, helpful suggestions.

We at Mequoda have been having a bit of trouble with our HTML emails, so when this article came on my RSS feed, I went to it immediately—HTML Emails — Taming the Beast, by David Greiner. (And that’s another thing, their writers are all developers and designers who’ve been tested in the real world—I can’t think of a better school.)

The basics of this article are twofold: Should you use CSS or tables in your email and what do you do when images (embedded in your email) are blocked?

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There is more than one answer, but when it all comes down to it, you simply need to know your audience.Is it B2B or B2C? A lot of B2B uses Lotus Notes, and Notes don’t like CSS. On the other hand, most B2C email clients, like Yahoo!, Hotmail and AOL, work with CSS just fine.It also comes down to coding your CSS correctly and making sure it’s inline, and not external. (You don’t want your user’s email client to have to come back to your site to read the CSS. It needs to be sent to their inbox, embedded in the email.) Embedded images are another problem altogether, but one he says can be easily rectified. I was pleased to see that of his five guidelines, we had already managed to do most of them: don’t use images for important calls to action, ask the user to whitelist you in every email, provide a text link to the Web version of each day’s email, use alt text for every image and include the width and height of each image tag. Find this article and a host of others at Vitamin.

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