Coding up the rendering for an email system is one of the most difficult tasks for any markup engineer, and the reason behind it isn’t well understood even among those who are experienced with it. There are different levels or layers of project difficulty that can be defined just by the tasks themselves, starting with print campaigns at the bottom. These are just simple poster board images that form the basis of many ads and basic website markup images. Next up, you have website rendering, which is on a whole different level of complexity because these aren’t just images but whole interactive pages that need to look and function correctly on a gamut of browsers, operating systems, screen ratios and resolutions. Now factor mobile and desktop versions in on top of that, and yeah: It’s complicated.
However, rendering the user interface for an email system completely overshadows the complexity of building web pages, even the intricate ones. A simple email render — the one you’re used to with the emails listed in the middle and the options scattered around the borders — factors several conditions into the picture, including:
• Operating systems
• Screen sizes
• Toggling of email images
• Web- and app-based email clients
• Email service providers (ESPs) themselves
Everything from opening the email catalog to the creation of an email, the sending and receiving of emails with various providers and various forms of potential data attached all must be taken into consideration here, and it makes for a highly complicated exercise in your markup know-how when tasked with a project of this size. If you’ve ever wondered why sites like Yahoo! tend to screw up their “new and improved” email layouts on the first try, it just goes to show that even top-of-the-line professionals struggle with it, which is one good reason why Google prefers to keep things simple, practical and flat.
However, with time, anything is possible, and the future needs more people to create new email systems for the road ahead. When you’re ready to learn the most basic tenets of creating the shell for an email system to render in, check out this site by Nicole Merlin to get started. Remember that there’s no fighting the quirks of email markup — it is what it is, and there’s no “doing it your way”, at least not the same way that you’ve built websites before.