The Motive Web Design Glossary
Email includes text and HTML messages sent across
HTML email is a webpage that is displayed in an email program.
Non-text elements, such as product photographs or logos, are either sent as attachments, or linked to from the
email. (In the case of the later, the image files must be uploaded to a location
accessible via the web.)
Direct marketing email
HTML email is often the format of choice for direct marketing, as the message can include more sophisticated formatting and layout, including images and rich media (sound, animation, etc.).
The success of this approach however is dependent on how the recipient connects to the internet, and the program they use to send and receive email.
- If they have a dial-up account, their modem may automatically disconnect
once the email has been received.
If the email links to images on the web, the result is a ‘webpage’—with no images.
- If they are checking email from a corporate environment, security measures may prevent certain file types (such as Flash), from being viewed.
- They way each email program (client) interprets HTML and/or CSS can have a dramatic impact on the ‘look’ of the email.
Some email programs have difficulty displaying (rendering) HTML.
For example an HTML email may take longer to ‘open’ than a text-only email, or result in an email that appears to be ‘broken’ (columns wrapping unexpectedly, images misaligned with captions, body copy aligned-center, etc.).
To avoid compatibility issues, it is recommend to also make a text-only
option available to subscribers. This lo-fi option can always link to the HTML version as a webpage.
CSS/stylesheets, HTML, HTML-text,
internet, RSS, spam, web, web browser, web fonts.
References and further reading
- Anti-spam policy (Campaign Monitor)
If you’re using email for direct marketing it’s a good idea to be aware of what constitutes unsolicited email (spam).
- 10 tips for your first email campaign (Ben Chestnut, Digital Web Magazine)
- CSS support in HTML email when viewed in Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail email clients (Xavier Frenette)
April 2005 roundup of CSS support in commonly used, web-based, email clients.
- Designing and building emails (Campaign Monitor)
A range of guides including: using video, how various email clients interpret alt attributes, forms, Flash and CSS support.
- DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
An open-standard e-mail authentication specification, intended to reduce spam by enabling the owner of a domain name to add a digital signature declaring that they are accountable for the message/email.
- Email acronyms and abbreviations
May also help with TXT/SMS translation and chatroom-speak
- Email address encoder (West Bay Web)
web-based encoding tool to prevent email addresses from being harvested from webpages.
- Email design guidelines (Campaign Monitor)
HTML newsletter recommendations: layout, positioning images, etc.
- Email newsletter subscription: New results from eyetracker research and usability testing (Jacob Nielsen, Usability.com)
Jun 12 2006: Usability considerations relating to email subscription processes.
- Email standards project
The Email Standards Project works with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in [HTML] email. Includes reports detailing the level of web standards support provided by widely-used email clients.
- Email subject line comparison (MailChimp)
Analysis of 40 million emails for the best and worst subject lines. Includes tips on how to write effective email subject lines.
- Guide to CSS support in email clients 2008 (Campaign Monitor)
- Graceful email obfuscation (Roel Van Gils, A List Apart)
- How to code HTML email newsletters (Tim Slavin)
- A guide to CSS support in email [clients] (David Greiner, Campaign Monitor)
- How to code HTML email newsletters (Sitepoint)
Tutorial and handy reference regarding the pitfalls of HTML email.
- How to prevent Eudora from changing your default Internet Explorer text size (Heinz Tschabitscher, About.com)
The Eudora email program (on Windows) can change the default text size in Internet Explorer to ‘smaller’ (rather than the standard ’medium’) making webpages difficult to read.
An optional email header standard for email publishers and marketers. Recipients of the email (who are using an email-client that understand the header), show an Unsubscribe button that will generate an email or link to a webpage.
- Markdown Syntax (John Gruber)
Proposed guidelines for writing a plain text version of an HTML document, substituting standard ASCII characters for HTML elements/tags.
- Microsoft breaks HTML email rendering in Outlook 2007 (Kevin Yank, Sitepoint)
10 Jan 2007: Outlook 2007 to use the rendering engine of Word 2007; minimal support for HTML and CSS formatting techniques. No floats, no background images, no animated GIFs, etc.
- The seven deadly sins of email marketing (Véro S. Pepperrell, Digital Web Magazine)
A primer on what you should know about email-based marketing.
- SpamCheck (SiteSell.com)
One method of detecting spam is to check email text for key words or phrases. This online tool allows you to identify possible spam ‘flags’ in your email copy.
- Text Email Newsletter (TEN) Standard (Dan Jellinek, Headstar)
Suggested guidelines for formatting plain text email newsletters, to ease navigation by all readers, including those using special access technologies.
- Transactional email and confirmation messages (Jacob Nielsen, Usability.com)
Oct 20 2008: Email can be a powerful tool for strengthening customer service and increasing user confidence and trust in both the site and the company.
- What is email authentication (SPF, Sendr ID and DomainKeys/DKIM) and how do I set it up? (Campaign Monitor)
Relates specifically to using the Campaign Monitor email service, but is still a useful introduction to email authentication.
- You know how I know you read my email? (David Walsh)
PHP-based method of determining whether an HTML email has been opened.
Motive Web Design Glossary Trivia