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February 15, 2012 / Danii Oliver

Email Coding – Not Rocket Science

Email NewsletterEmail

First and foremost because of the finicky nature of browsers, email engines, and a plethora of operating systems emails have to remain in the simplest format we know in computer capabilities. That’s not to say we can’t create good graphic designs with emails but we are limited to what can be done with plain text. In some cases we might even be able to get away with HTML coding a pretty newsletter that matches the visuals of a company or a brand promotion.


unlike plain text emails are used as a marketing strategy to attract the eye balls and attention of mass of people in the absence of a personal email or letter. As social beings the notion of importance strikes us and causes us to stop and pay attention. Newsletters or email marketing campaigns don’t generate that effect; thus many times an email not personally addressed to a person can be really boring and really annoying. Such emails end up in the trash or worse the spam folder and a permanent deaf ear has been turn on a promising  brand.

To avoid the deaf ear defeat, we use images and interesting hierarchies of design to draw readers’ attention. Many times, I find myself going through yet another newsletter just because the design has caught my eye and is directing me through the letter. Other times, the images tell me a story I want to know more about so I click to read on.

Eye Catching

This effect of catching the eyes of readers comes not from plain text emails but from coding HTML emails. The first thing to know about coding an HTML email is that although it is like a webpage it can’t contain external CSS and it needs to be lain out in the old time
<tables></tables> not <divs></divs>.
Through a series of nested
you can create pseudo wrappers to contain information and images in appropriate cells layout to almost perfection. Views will differ from email client to email client but the idea is to get everything lined up and styled in line for optimal design.

HTML vs Plain Text

For cases where HTML can’t be viewed it is best to have a backup plain text email sent simultaneously for email clients that won’t render HTML. This is done by, selecting “Send as plain and HTML” in your mail client. The Plain email will go through first; if the reader’s client accepts HTML the HTML with appear.

There is another major need to know with email, there needs to be links available to unsubscribe and information letting the reader know where you attained their information from. Not everyone likes getting email blasts. Be sure to caution your sending and avoid spamming.


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