Loren McDonald offers 20 HTML design tips in three key areas: format, functionality and usability. He covers issues that affect how your message appears, including coding, images, message width and file size.
- Code emails by hand if you can.
- Avoid nested tables.
- Do not use canvas background images.
- Host images on your Web site instead of embedding them in emails.
- Avoid 1x1 pixel spacer gifs.
- Avoid using Cascading Style Sheets.
- Keep HTML Emails to 500 to 650 pixels wide.
- Keep message file size under 100 KB.
- Validate HTML content.
- Avoid scripting if you can.
- Link to a Web version of your email message.
- Use image alt tags.
- Redesign the top of your email template so that readers will see your key content, even if they don't see the images.
- Use horizontal layout rather than vertical.
- Incorporate both text and HTML and use alt tags, color and graphics instead of live images linked to your Web site.
- Provide lots of active links to content at your Web site.
- Navigation through your email should reflect your Web site navigation – don’t use different terms.
- Add functionality such as Send-to-a friend...carefully.
- Add a subscriber-management section to each template.
- Host rich-media functions such as inline audio, video or Flash on your Web site instead of embedding them in an email.
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