This week Mark Wyner has published an article about A CSS Solution to Image Blocking which covers a technique of using image replacement for HTML newsletters when the email client has CSS turned on but images turned off. His guinea pig for this is Digital Web Magazine and the results are pretty good.
One thing to always remember is that creating a HTML newsletter is not the same as designing a web site. Sure the markup is just markup, but other factors come into play that can wreak havoc on a design or worse, flag your newsletter as spam. Here are a few things I have learned.
- Always consider the user who has images disabled in their email client.
- Include a link to the text only version if for some reason their email client renders the HTML email as if it were a Picasso painting
- Keep images to a minimum unless it is the focus of your business (i.e. real estate, stock photography, etc)
- Craft a clear subject line so the reader knows what the new issue of the newsletter is about
- Include an identifier in the subject line (e.g. ”[Blue Flavor]”, ”[CSS-D]”, etc.) so the reader can filter your emails and thus it is less likely to be tagged as spam.
- Keep comments in your markup to a minimum, and keep them lower-case to avoid being flagged as spam.
- Always include a way to unsubscribe from the newsletter as well as an explanation of why the subscriber is getting this email newsletter.
Techniques such as this can be streamlined for client use. At Blue Flavor we have been looking into Mail Build, an email newsletter service for our clients. It’s made by FreshView the same guys who created Campaign Monitor which is another email service intended for people like us who create and send newsletters for our clients.
Be sure to catch Mark’s presentation at webVisions 2006 in Portland, Oregon. His topic is Building Better HTML Emails. Also, don’t forget to check out Brian Fling’s Designing for Mobile: Bringing Design Down to Size workshop and his Mobile Development Panel. Keith Robinson will also be participating in the Design Panel along with several other web design luminaries.