Common Issues in Coding HTML Email

Email is now a primary method of business communication, and clarity and consistency can be compromised by a host of mistakes.  In general, if you are approaching email the way you would  a Web page, chances are good that it won't display correctly with so many email and Web mail clients available.  Here are some of the more common mistakes people make today:

 

·         Make sure the email interface is not too wide

 

In the design phase of an important email, the idea is to make it where it will easily fit in the viewing area of most email clients.  To be safe, a width of about 650 pixels is ideal, as this width will accommodate the windows of a vast majority of popular email clients.  To be certain, test it on accounts from Yahoo, Google, and Hotmail.

 

·         Getting rid of junk code

 

If you use MS Word, MS Front Page, or MS Publisher to develop your email, do keep in mind that these tools include all sorts of junk HTML code that can cause all kinds of potential problems.  Some of the most common problems are when it breaks up your layout or causes an email client to direct your email straight to the junk folder.  To make sure that you avoid experiencing any coding issues caused by junk HTML in your code, you can do development in Notepad, which is part of every Windows operating system.

 

·         Make sure Web links are correct and that there are no relative links

 

If you have a link to an image on the Internet, make sure the link is complete, and not a link to something on a hard drive that you used while testing.  Another common mistake is using a relative address, and here is an example. 

 

<a href="nextpage.htm"> </a>

 

The above is an example of a relative address that will not work in an email.  It is an address that is located on your computer, or a page on a website that has already been referenced.

 

·         Do not reference external CSS files

 

Most email clients, including Yahoo, Google Mail, and many more, will not reference external CSS files.  This is because external CSS can interfere with their own CSS code.  If you must use CSS, use in-line CSS only.  You should also test any email using CSS to find any mistakes and/or inconsistencies.

 

·         Avoid large images

 

Most of the email clients people use today will block an image by default, and that will result in your clients seeing a blank screen.  There are often delivery problems with a large image-only email, so you should avoid them at all costs.

 

If you follow all of these simple tips for effective email business communications, chances are you will get your message across more effectively and avoid the confusion caused by poorly designed emails.

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