Code like it’s 2014

Email has always been an underdog, there’s no denying that. You can regularly see non-email folks complaining on Twitter about having to do HTML email. People see it as an archaic and frustrating system.

The phrase I always see thrown around is “Code like it’s 1999”. The truth is, that’s not at true at all. There are lots of people innovating email technology for both email developers and the end user.

Behind the scenes

For the people tasked with creating emails there’s a lot of cool stuff going on that can really change the way an email is built.

Mark Robbins is using CSS animations and a bit of clever code to create a tap based game that works in email clients.

To advertise the Email Design Conference, Litmus sent out and then gave a write up on how to code HTML5 video backgrounds in email, although not supported in every email client they made sure they had solid fallbacks for those that don’t support it. See it in action in the video below

Lee Munroe created a GruntJS workflow that automates a lot of the repetitive tasks of creating a HTML email, including sending tests, inlining your CSS to be email friendly, optimising images, and compiling SCSS.

Speaking of Sass, we can use Sass to create a more stream-lined email development process. Sass is a pre-processing language for CSS that allows us to code more efficiently, especially with email code.

For the subscriber

The things are above are brilliant for an email developer or designer, but what about innovative technologies that are directly benefiting the subscriber?

Companies like LiveClicker and Movable Ink are doing some amazing stuff in email, including countdown timers, live updating tweets in email, and some really clever deep-linking for apps. One that really stands out for me is an Autotrader email that had geo-located traffic news, live to when the subscriber opened it.

B&Q really set the bar recently with a fantastic email that had a tap-able carousel on it, it has an amazing fall back for devices that don’t support the code that does the carousel. You can see the carousel below.

With the advances in email in the last few months, I can’t wait to see fully working video in email too. Although I do the see cons in video in email and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter!

What gets me excited is the growing amount of web technology which we can use in email.

In conclusion

As an email developer, I was always told we can’t do this or we can’t do that. The reason I was always given was “best practice”. I hate this term, we’re told it and given no real reason. My call to you is to push the boundaries of what people say is possible.

The recent push of innovation in email has all of us at display block even more excited to be a part of email marketing, and we can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Email is not the underdog, be proud to be a part of it.

We are always experimenting with the latest technologies and techniques here at display block, if you’d like to discuss how we can use any of the above in your emails, get in touch with us.