If you’ve ever tried creating an email newsletter using attractive HTML then you may have encountered a few problems. Sometimes people assume that if you’re a web designer, then obviously putting together an email that looks like their web site should be a simple task. Not so!
Designing a web site has been simplified to some extent over the years thanks to the work of the web consortium, W3C, who have defined standards for website coding and the way a browser should display this code. Some browsers have gotten it right (like Firefox and Opera), some older browsers have it very very wrong (Internet Explorer 6).
When it comes to email, a lot of the mail clients and web mail providers have their own special ways of interpreting HTML in emails and one of the worst offenders is Gmail.
Their website details all of the requirements for email standards and outlines a baseline of what is required for basic and consistent functionality and rendering of a HTML email. They are very careful to ensure that no potential security risks are being proposed and have created their own acid test to evaluate the performance of various email clients.
So, what about Gmail?
There’s a reason I’m singling out Gmail in this post. While there are other equally bad offenders (Outlook 2007, .Mac, Lotus Notes), the email standards project is currently on a mission to attract some attention from the Gmail development team and as a part of this they have started “Project Gmail Grimace“.
Last year Gmail asked their users to contribute to a collaborative video featuring the Gmail ‘M’. Here at the Email Standards Project we’re not above borrowing a good idea, especially if it could help get some attention from Google! We’re going to put together our own video from photos you guys send in.
Basically they’re looking to create a video of designers across the globe despairing when they can’t get their newsletter to render correctly in Gmail. It’s a fairly simple thing – take a photo, add it to the Flickr group that they’ve set up, and we’re on our way.
We need as many head shots as possible to make something that stands out, so get photographing. If you’re not a designer, but a client, you could even consider submitting a photo of your grimace upon receiving the invoice for designing a newsletter, which cost that bit more because of this lack of standards!