HomeAdviceCode your own email by hand - do's and dont's

Code your own email by hand – do’s and dont’s

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code your own email

What you can and can’t do when you code your own email.

Ok, some of us like to code our own emails in HTML. If you are a coder it can offer grater flexibility and if you are like me, nothing beats writing your own super neat perfectly aligned code – code is poetry.

But if you are a web designer, coding for email is vastly different, you will find that a lot of the techniques that you use for web design, simply wont work in email or will look horrible.

So, if you are coding your own html emailer, lets jump right in and find out what web design techniques you need to avoid:


1. Div’s in your HTML & CSS styles in a head section.

older email readers get really stumped by divs. While modern readers such as iOS handle them great. This is important to bar in mind when you code your own email as some retro ones just can handle all our div positioning and float attributes, so be safe. Its best to avoid their use for now.

2. Javascript

You can technically javascript in email. But it is a sure fire way to get your email flagged as spam or hazidious. So if you want good delivery, be sure to avoid javascript.

3. Image Maps

some older readers get stumped by these, especially if images are blocked by default. Best to avoid them.

4. Image pixel sizes over 600 px & file sizes over 250 kb.

Email reader windows are pretty small. Much smaller than your full screen internet browser. Make sure no image is wider than 600px and the file size is under 250kb – if users are on a slow mobile phone data connection, they wont wait ages for a big image to download.

5. Flash (shockwave files)

Most people don’t use flash these days. Even on web design it is considered dated. On email, don’t even consider it, it simply won’t work and will sometimes prompt a security warning to the recipient.

6. Gradients, shadows or rounded corners.

Best to avoid all three when you code your own email. Some modern email readers will code just fine. But Retro outlook users, they just can handle it.

7. Background images.

using background images and placing text on them is quite common coding practice for web design. Many modern email readers will support it just fine, but older ones, well they get a little stumped and will simply ignore your background image – no unless you get a little hacky with your source code. But to be safe, we would normally advise to avoid their use.

8. HTML 5 & Css 3.

I love HTML 5 and CSS3, it can do some great things. Soon we are going to be able to use it lots, but not just yet. A lot of people are still using email readers that don’t have a clue how to render it. So best to avoid it more people upgrade their email readers.

9. No fancy fonts.

not everybody has your fancy fonts installed on their PC. Keep to basic web safe fonts which you know your users have installed like aerial or if you must, that designers most hated font of comic sans. If you use some fancy font that your customers don’t have, well your lovely mailer will probably come out in Times New Roman, 

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