So as a guy who works with (X)HTML and Web UI technologies on almost a daily basis, this may surprise you, but I hate HTML email. I mean, you’ve got to do it every now and then, you have no real choice, your clients are all about it. But, honestly, I’m as ASCII text freak. When I sign up for any newsletter and there’s a choice, I always go with text.
Just about any task I’m doing or taking notes about starts with a plain text editor. I love it. Simple. Fast. The way email was supposed to be, back in the day anyway. And for quick notes, why open a word processor? Plain text is text, use it for it.
We use Exchange at work. I’m stuck on Outlook for the most part. But I set my mail client to default to text. I’m just not into it. I guess I’m just old-fashioned.
Web-standards based approaches and HTML email? Forget about it. You thought designing for a browser was hostile…
Lotus Notes HTML Email
Recently I had to churn out some internal HTML emails for a client who, internally used Lotus Notes. I found this excellent resource over at campaignmonitor.com, which, combined with some other research, was actually scaring me to death. The money quote:
If Internet Explorer is the schoolyard bully making our web design lives a little harder, then Hotmail, Lotus Notes and Eudora are serial killers making our email design lives hell. Yes, it’s really that bad.
The task was some forms internally being used for their HR department, and I was horrified in two ways: first, that Notes’ CSS support is non-existent, and second, that even their table support left a bit to be desired. I was able to test it through a client contact and actually found it to do what I needed it to do — it wasn’t that complex.
I guess that’s my biggest piece of advice there for Lotus Notes, just go with the basics (I actually used FONT tags — I know, ugh) and don’t go to crazy. Test with your client if you can on their software. If you can. I had the luxury of knowing who was getting the notes and what software it would be.
Fine, end of discussion, HTML email is not something I care to put too much energy to (although it’s inevitable once in a while), but I do highly recommend that article I linked if you’ve got to do some work with it. In fact the whole site seems loaded with helpful bits of info.
Outlook 2007 and HTML Email
So, with my recent experiences under my belt, and my personal feelings being buried deep inside … I just had to laugh (and I do feel for people who have to now deal with it) when I read that Outlook 2007 will drop IE as the HTML mail rendering engine and revert back to Microsoft Word. That’s right, Microsoft Word, for HTML.
Well, some links to help you out if you’re stuck doing HTML email:
- SiteVista HTML Email testing service Reviewed
- SiteVista’s Email Testing Page (ahh! No support for Lotus Notes!)
- The truth behind the Outlook 2007 change and what you can do about it
- Microsoft takes email design back 5 years
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