After a lot of experience with templates provided by other email services, I’ve grown to accept their limitations. Maybe you know what I’m talking about:
- You add something, then delete it, and then an empty space lurks there forever.
- You move a box ever so slightly to the right and a chunk of empty space miraculously appears.
- You’ve become very good at manipulating font size or resizing pictures to accommodate a template that you didn’t know how to change.
Know what I mean?
So I’m learning HTML after all these years of doing without. Yes, I have my experts I can go to; but it’s time to design our own amazing-looking emails here at our little shop.
Recently Sam picked up at book called Create Stunning HTML Email that Just Works! by Mathew Patterson. It’s a great introduction to what I’ve been missing out on. Turns out, HTML at this level — tables were the modus operandi of the 90’s before CSS, but are now considered outdated by savvy web designers — is quite doable, even for someone like me who has relied on stock templates in the past.
Besides the design training and examples of actual HTML code, the book includes some excellent tables explaining the features of most of the different email clients out there, and how (and to what extent) they end up displaying your emails to your viewer. The most popular dozen or so email clients (Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook 2003, Gmail, Apple iPhone, etc.) support specific CSS style elements differently, by the way. Who could imagine designing different emails for every possible customer by using CSS?
But this useful book offers tips on designing uniform email that looks about the same on every email client.
The resources throughout the book can help as well; websites for free HTML email code to experiment with, online services that show you what your code looks like to different email clients, and some gorgeous real-life examples to inspire.
If you’re new to email marketing, and you think you might want to branch off from templates, Create Stunning HTML Email that Just Works! is a good place to start.
Written by Jen McGahan