Email was invented in 1972, yes quite a long time ago… and a short 20 years later Outlook ’97 was invented. However, nearly 20 years later Outlook really hasn’t moved that far forwards, especially when you consider the rate that everything else has moved within the digital and tech world.
Due to the nature of Outlook’s progression, as an email designer, I have more reason than most to dislike Outlook. Unable to support a majority of the features that I use, we are limited in what we can produce with emails for our clients, held back by the lowest common denominator.
Roll on 2004 and my friend Google was going to ride in to rescue me on a flying multicoloured unicorn.
Imagine my joy, my excitement and exhilaration when Google announced they were releasing Gmail to combat Hotmail! Naturally, as with anything created by Google, they were going to do things right. Taking over the world one step at a time, Gmail was promised to be better than everyone else, it was going to be #awesome.
On April the 1st 2004, like some kind of a sick April Fool’s joke they released Gmail, but much to my disappointment, Gmail did not support styles within the head, media queries, classes, or IDs. They had taken us backwards… but that’s ok, we still had Outlook (ugh). Then in 2008, a small sign of hope was released in the form of Android! But of course, to use Android, you had to use Gmail, so millions of people signed up. Clever Google.
So, this meant we had to account for Google to design emails and we did so by moving all of our styles inline. This made the code bloated, unfriendly, hard to maintain, and really difficult to find errors. Ultimately, to develop emails as a team was pretty much impossible. You can imagine what I thought of their multi-coloured flying unicorn.
So I spent 12 long years writing angry emails… extremely blandly styled angry emails… until now 2016.
Google has announced Gmail will finally be supporting styles in the head, furthermore, classes and IDs are banished no more. They are even going to support media queries. Which they should do, as they have practically demanded that every website is mobile friendly whilst tying one hand behind any email designers back. Yes, we could do it before, but it wasn’t easy and it was very limiting.
So what does all this mean for you? The user? The business owner? The Developer? The Designer?
For Users, email readers, or as I like to call them, normo’s:
What this means for the user is that you should see an increase in nicely styled marketing emails on mobile devices like phones and tablets. That may not sound great, but you are far more likely to enjoy emails if they look nice. I’m not saying you only hate spam because it’s ugly, but everyone has adverts that they like.
There is a security risk of course as emails will be easier to style, so you might expect a surge in phishing emails initially, or better quality phishing emails. However, if emails are easier to design, you would also expect email designs to be updated more often. Spammers and Phishers are lazy so they are less inclined to update their emails frequently – be vigilant.
For Business Owners
Expect email design to be cheaper, easier, faster and to have a few more options than you previously had. Expect good looking emails to convert better and sell more of your products and services. But don’t expect a miracle, there are still huge restrictions on email marketing.
For Developers and Designers
Expect a small surge of entries into the market from other designers and developers. Emails will be easier to make, they still won’t be easy, but they will have one less piece in the jigsaw. Emails will still be a pain to make so many will still avoid entering the market. You can also expect the sudden drive in supply to reduce the cost you can charge. If you are inexperienced expect your fees to reduce.
In terms of using only media queries, unfortunately, you’ll probably still have to use a fluid-hybrid approach such as the one used by us at Square Balloon, as you’ll still need to support a wide variety of email clients.
And for Unicorn Believers…
Good things are going to happen for you, your luck is about to change insanely for the good, and you will start realising that life can be exactly what you want it to be, all you had to do was believe.
So what do you think of this new announcement from Google? And moreover, why, after 12 years, do you think they have finally listened to my angry emails?