Having felt a little under the weather that day, I was in bed. But, I woke up the next morning to find my Twitter feed drenched in tweets, happily proclaiming that it was finally “later this month”. (September 30th, nothing like hitting your deadline in the nick of time.) Gmail had officially started supporting media queries and embedded styles. Three cheers for the email community!
Leading up to this long awaited improvement, I had read quite a few articles on what this meant in terms of development. In reality, it’s not only and update for Gmail but an update that will benefit email development overall.
Most notably, the need for in-line styling seems as though it’s going to be a thing of the past. And, finally, Gmail app users will no longer be crippled by unresponsive email.
But what does this actually mean for us, the email developers? How is it going to effect our daily lives and job roles?
It seems that everyone’s first thought is this: the update will make life as an email developer easier. And, to an extent, it probably will. As someone who has shifted more towards web development in the last couple of years, it actually pains me to have to write in-line styles when I’m doing emails. Not having to write out styles on every <table>, <tr>, <td> and <p> will be lovely. Likewise, being able to adjust all your paragraph styles in one place will be utterly amazing.
Make no mistake though, there will be a learning curve.
Email is such a big part of a company’s marketing plan that there are now people (departments, and whole companies) that focus solely on email design and development. For all of you, this will be a major change. Do you keep writing your in-line styles until we’re positive Gmail’s updates respond correctly? Are there some hacks that you’ll still need to include in-line? Are there new problems we’re going to run into now? I imagine there will be a lot of trial and error over the next few months. Embrace it.
I’m even willing to bet that some organizations won’t change their coding strategy at all. People don’t like change and hey, if it’s not broke, why fix it?
I like to think I’m friendly with a wide spectrum of people in the email community. Some of you will change your ways immediately. In fact, I’ve already seen it. You’ll start testing the boundaries and spinning the wheels on these new features. You will unknowingly take the lead in this evolution.
Unfortunately, not everyone will have that opportunity. Plenty of people are the sole email developers on their team. They probably know about the change and how exciting it is but realistically, there isn’t time in the day-to-day schedule for all the trial and error.
As with most change, there’s a solid chance that it will take a new generation of email developers, ones that aren’t so familiar with these things called ‘in-line styles’, to cause change on a wider scale.
It’s been a huge year for email development.
Let’s not forget that earlier in Q3 Litmus and Microsoft announced a partnership in order to help #MakeEmailBetter. We are able to report bugs and rendering issues directly to the source. As a group, we now have the opportunity to work with a major email client to solve problems together. It’s unprecedented in our field.
Change does not happen overnight, nor is it perfect. There will undoubtedly be new problems uncovered and new hacks to learn. It will take time for these new features and development strategies to trickle down through the entire email community. I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a tremendous year for email development.
2017, bring it.
Some noteworthy articles about the dev updates: