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It’s not developers’ fault Design-to-Code email workflows are so inefficient


Developers never cease to amaze me, especially about email creation. They’re solvers, fixers, work-arounders. When it comes to one of the most popular ways to create emails, Design-to-Code, they are crucial. Mainly because that workflow calls for each email to be hand-coded by, you guessed it, developers.

While developer’s skills are admirable, your email creation workflow’s efficiency depends on their speed and, importantly, availability. For example, during the approvals process, a reviewer sees a period where a comma should be. The email-in-the-making needs to go back to the developer to be corrected, assuming they can address the issue immediately, which is often not the case. Once revised, it returns to the approvals routine. If another correction is required, the previous steps are repeated, hopefully before the email is deployed. All that back and forth consumes lots of time. Interestingly, 80% of companies using this approach need one week to produce one email. It’s not uncommon to see it take multiple weeks to create an email using this method. 

That and other scenarios are not the faults of developers. It’s the fault of the Design-to-Code workflow. Stensul identified eight aspects of that workflow that make email creation more complicated, more time-consuming, and costly than it needs to be. This post lists each and explains how to deal with them to make your email creation process simpler and speedier.

1. Unexpected broken code

   When content looks normal but isn’t, that’s a sign of broken code. Italicized or boldfaced text doesn’t appear, but extra spaces do. And there are problems with paragraphs and paragraph spacing. While QA usually catches such issues, the email has to go back to the developer to be fixed in a Design-to-Code workflow. And that takes time.

How to overcome it:

An Email Creation Platform lets people without coding knowledge create emails that go through an automated QA process – upfront – to ensure their emails will get sent and display without broken code issues.

2. Long load times overall

If it takes too long for all elements of an email – all the HTML, images, and other digital assets – to come into view so the recipient can see, that’s not a positive experience. It happens because some part of the email is too heavy or too large. As a result, there’s a good chance the email won’t be read.

How to overcome it:

Slimmer, better-designed emails can better deal with the variations of email clients, devices, and viewing circumstances.

A great way to avoid guessing whether the HTML is the right “weight” or if digital images will load quickly and display correctly is to use an Email Creation Platform to create emails. The assorted variations are taken into account. That’s not the case with a Design-to-Code workflow.

3. Images not loading

It’s about file size. Some email clients will not allow images above a specific size to be downloaded, including some of the most popular, like Apple Mail which has a 20 MB file size limitation.

How to overcome it:

Being able to anticipate the numerous variables to ensure images in an email are loaded is not easy. An Email Creation Platform factors in all the variables, so you don’t have to.

4. No live text impacts deliverability

Imagine an email created with only images. Now imagine someone trying to comprehend what the email is about, but the images don’t load. All the effort to create the email goes for naught, mainly because there was no live text in the email. 

How to overcome it:

When designing an email, don’t focus only on the creative aspects. Think about the email’s purpose. To have it read and prompt action. By including HTML text, which is what live text is, you’re able to create a message that gets seen and understood. It will display even when images don’t. Using an Email Creation Platform ensures all that happens appropriately. That’s not the case with a Design-to-Code workflow.

5. Images not retina quality

Retina displays, called high-DPIs, or high dots per inch displays, arrived with the iPhone 4 in 2010. They yield more detailed, clearer images and text on the screens of devices that have them.

Retina quality images have twice as many pixels per inch as traditional digital images. They need to be twice as large to look as good. And when scaling down to accommodate the compact screens of mobile phones, bad things happen to good images.

How to overcome it:

It’s about file size management. An Email Creation Platform makes that process automatic as it allows retina quality images to be used for virtually any email client used on any device.

6. Not mobile-optimized

Creating an email today means more than developing it with an eye toward it read from a mobile device. While that dictates how elements are laid out, it goes beyond the landscape scheme of mobile vs. desktop’s portrait arrangement. It’s also about having emails be created to work well with many mobile email clients, among other things.

How to overcome it:

A blend of enough content so your message is understood, with enough visual acuity to be read, is needed. All can be handled with ease and speed when using an Email Creation Platform. Pre-configure the emails to be made, taking into account the assorted variables and a non-technical type, can efficiently create an effective email.

7. Text not ADA compliant

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Accessible Canada Act call for emails to meet specific accessibility requirements. They’re clarified in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). If your company creates emails that people with disabilities can’t read, you face a $75,000 fine for the first compliance failure. Beyond the fine and hit on your brand’s reputation, you’re missing a sizable portion of the market. It’s estimated that there are 4.2 million Americans 40 years and older that are visually impaired. That’s expected to rise to 7.2 million by the end of this decade.

How to overcome it:

It’s straightforward. Create emails that confirm with what’s spelled out in the ADA/ACA/WCAG: 

  • Maintain a logical reading order
  • Use heading elements in code
  • Include sufficient contrast between text and background colors
  • Provide text alternatives for images
  • Feature meaningful link text
  • Keep code concise
  • Use a descriptive subject line

Make it even simpler for yourself by using an Email Creation Platform that can have these requirements, and more, pre-configured.

8. Tracking and testing limitations

This challenge is all about time. Or the lack of it. Creating emails in a Design to Code workflow means a 90% creation/10% strategy time allocation. That means you have very little time to analyze prior email efforts to sharpen the strategy for the one you’re developing. Less time to conduct A/B testing or track to see any number of areas that can help you gain insight to make the email more effective.

How to overcome it:

Create emails on an Email Creation Platform, and what takes days when using a Design to Code workflow gets done in hours. That frees up time for analysis, strategy development, testing, and refinement. Using an Email Creation Platform also lets you track differently, more deeply, via Google Analytics and apply different tags to CTAs. 

To learn more about how an Email Creation Platform can help you create emails in less time and perform better, download the eBook “How to overcome 8 challenges in Design to Code email creation.” 

Please request a demo if you’d like to see how the Stensul Email Creation Platform™ can elevate your email marketing programs.

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