Email newsletters in Outlook 2007

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By Mike Ash

One thing that we frequently build in conjunction with new websites is a tool for sending out email newsletters.  For the most part, we stick to XHTML/CSS and try to stay away from using "old" layout techniques (i.e. tables) for the newsletters.  This allows the greatest flexibility between the large number of email clients (e.g. Outlook, AOL, Yahoo!, Eudora, Thunderbird, Pine, etc.).  Businesses love being able to quickly communicate with their customers, and email newsletters are a great way to do this.  But things are changing, and if you use HTML newsletters, you'll need to make some changes too.

An article I discovered via digg earlier this week was pretty surprising, though at the same time not surprising at all.  It turns out that with the newest version of Microsoft Office, Outlook 2007 will change the engine that renders HTML email from Internet Explorer to Word.  It's all related to Microsoft's push for security, but instead of just creating a trimmed down rendering engine that met the security needs, Microsoft decided to use the engine that comes with Word.  Problem is, the engine used by Word is very limited and doesn't support some of the HTML and CSS attributes that designers and developers use consistently in newsletters.

So what does this mean for your email newsletters?  Well, your newsletter templates will most likely need an overhaul to ensure that they still look good in your subscribers' inboxes.  It may also mean that some of your templates need to be cut back on features.  Less images, no background images, a simpler layout.  You may love your existing newsletters, but be prepared for a redesign or some time to re-engineer them.

Interested in learning more or hearing other folks' take on this change?  Check out the links below for even more info on this change.

Design, Dev, Marketing

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