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How to make sure your emails degrade gracefully

June 8, 2011

We can test our HTML emails in different email clients and in different browser based clients, but we still can’t know exactly how people will have their clients set up. That's why it’s important that you prepare for the fact that some people will have their images switched off by default.

Whilst having a hosted version of your email and a ‘View this email online’ link is a good place to start, here are 4 more ways to make sure someone that viewing your email with images disabled, still gets the message.

1. Normal images

Generally, when you put an image into a webpage you want to specify the exact dimensions of the images, because it’s good practice and if you don't, your web browser will have additional work to do.

However, for emails it can be advantageous to leave the heights/widths out for some images, because if they are disabled by default, some clients may still keep a large blank space in these exact dimensions, which breaks up the copy too much. Without specifying a size, they appear as a neater text email.

2. Call to action

Avoid relying on your call to action as just one big button, make sure there’s a text alternative. Also take a look at our whitepaper The Importance of your Call to Action for more in depth advice.

3. Titles

As using a nice non-standard font as your title usually means using an image, it's worth styling the alt text to ensure that this title doesn’t disappear completely. More details and an example of this can be found in this previous Tip of the Month.

4. Background images

There are techniques to get background images to show in some email clients, but support for them is still patchy. Always have a backup background colour behind the background image to fall back on. At worst, you could end up with your light text becoming unreadable when the missing image leaves the background white.
 

Posted by Joel Jarman
Tip of the month


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