Codeschool: HTML coding for email newsletters

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sun, 05/31/2015 - 14:25

Course complete ff3bc01bb1609ae6d0d0c4057c9822d9 Over the last couple of years, I've benefited greatly from many online course offerings. If you're in my business, you'll know how essential it is to try to keep up to date with the latest and greatest.
I'm long since past needing to be one of the cool kids; but some of the new stuff that's come along (I'm looking at you, Angular) has actually vastly improved my ability to get useful work done for clients.

Once in a while, though, it's necessary to pull back from the cutting edge, and wander into a section of the coding world that smells old and musty, and makes your lip curl.

HTML Email is just such a section.

If you've been around since, say, 1998, you'll recognize with a shudder some of the techniques that Email coders have to use every day. Tables, in fact - the rest of us long since gave up using tables for layout of anything but actual tabular data. They're hard to style, and really hard to make responsive. Sadly, they're the only strategy that will survive the preprocessor mangling that many email clients will subject your content to.

There's also the issue of what Email clients will respect which directives. Did you know, for example, that Gmail strips out any "style" links, so that you can't include remote style sheets? You can't even reliably put a bunch of CSS in your Head element. And don't get me started on Outlook, which apparently uses the perfectly atrocious MS Word rendering engine.

Many marketers get around this sort of nonsense by using online email services, especially ones with a design tool attached. Mailchimp is my personal favorite - and not just for its awesome simpatico with Drupal. Others swear by Constant Contact, Lyris, Vertical Response, etc. What these services have in common is that, to a greater or lesser degree, they help tame the beast of HTML email design. (Well, my one client's experience with Lyris isn't all that encouraging, but the others do seem to help).

However many of us still need to understand what's going on under the hood. No cloud service is perfect, and there are enough good clients using bad online email designers that there's still a role for us code monkeys. As usual, we get called when something goes sideways.

That's where Codeschool's new HTML Email course comes in.

As with all of the Codeschool courses, the format is: video lecture, followed by some exercises that you complete in their guided-learning tool. You can download the video to replay later, as well as the PDF of the content; I like to keep the PDF open while doing the exercises just so I don't have to re-watch the whole video to get that one little snippet that I forgot about.

You may choose to skip the intro musical number that Codeschool enjoys putting at the start of every video, but altogether this course adheres to Codeschool's usual high standard of presentation and content.

Who should take this course?
Anyone who's interested in not being embarrassed by spending an entire afternoon fixing up a half-page of HTML that looks like it was written in the last century.

You'll want at least a rudimentary understanding of HTML elements, media queries for Mobile, and CSS style tags. But you'll likely be able to figure it out if you're comfortable with any kind of coding or markup at all.
If not, see Codeschool's other excellent course offerings on those subjects.