email marketing best practices web coding vs email coding

What Works for the Web Might Fall Flat in an Email Design

Sure your designer can make your website wow like a coding whiz, but when it comes to email design, those coding skills will definitely need a little adjustment.

Sometimes the best email rendering tool is a little HTML knowledge. Watch out for ugly emails that render nothing like you wanted by knowing the difference between what works on a web page vs. what works in an email.

Below are two commonly misunderstood differences between website and email coding. Make sure you and your email design team are aware of these to ensure an email design that looks good on your customers’ screens…and remember, sometimes those screens are only a couple of inches wide.

1. Make sure any CSS used to define font styles, sizes, colors, line-heights, letter spacing and the like is kept as inline CSS. Any CSS attributes that are kept above the Body tag or intended to be invoked from an external CSS file will work on a web page but will not work in an email environment. That’s because many ISPs strip any coding above the Body tag, and they don’t reference external CSS sources. So be sure to use inline CSS or skip it altogether and design your email without it.

2. JavaScript and ActiveX work great in websites but are typically blocked in emails. Avoid these when building from scratch and make sure to remove if you’ve copied your design over from a web page, or you’ve used a productivity program like Microsoft Word to create your email design.

Getting email design right matters more than ever as the world goes mobile and your emails get smaller in appearance. Knowing differences between what works for the web and fails in email will help get your email design off to a better start.

Published On: July 7th, 2011Categories: Email marketing best practicesTags:

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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