How To Put Out Email Client Renderability Fires With Simple Workarounds

Monday, July 31, 2017

There are millions of jobs in this world. Some require very basic skill-sets and some require a special set of tools. No matter what kind of job you passionately (or not) do, you face a certain level of difficulties which helps break the monotony. But the work of an email developer is not monotonous but filled with challenges and difficulties. Even though there has been substantial progress in the field of email coding and development, email client rendering clearly sticks out like a sore thumb. Most of you shall resonate with this. An applause for those yet sticking onto email development.

What goes behind the scene, once an email reaches the inbox of your subscribers, how an email client renders an email, why the email that you developed may not look the same on your subscribers’ devices is a very important takeaway for someone who wishes to improve oneself. Moreover, to avoid broken user experience, some of the duct-tape workarounds to enable non-supporting email clients to render a fallback is also worth learning.

Why is developing an email template considered difficult?

First HTML webpage was developed in 1989 and shortly in the mid-1990s even emails became feature rich by adopting the HTML code.

Fast forward to the current scenario, webpage development has progressed in leaps & bounds with content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. in creating webpages that are a visual wonderland but email developers are still stuck in HTML, while being in a dilemma to choose between <div> or <table> layout (P.S: Play it safe with <table> layout).

Modern web browsers are equipped to support Javascript, ActiveX control and Flash, and with constant updates, any security backdoors and vulnerabilities are plugged. On the other hand, in order to avoid any security backdoors and vulnerabilities from opening an email, email clients strip away any ‘Foreign’ code and hence they don’t support Javascript or interactive Flash elements.

In 2014, CSS stylesheet support was added to emails but unfortunately not all CSS properties are supported. Even amongst those email clients, only a handful email clients support CSS3 elements such as text-fill-color, opacity, and box-shadow. The main reason behind such selective behavior by email clients is that each email client uses their proprietary rendering engine which supports, strips away or ignores certain CSS elements.

Know Your Rendering Engine and Its Different Types

The stripped down definition of a Rendering Engine is the backend of any email client and it plays a vital role in rendering an email. It draws structured text from the HTML and formats it as per the styles declared in CSS.

1- Email & HTML Code

(As seen in the above image, right side shows the HTML code, the left section shows the completed email. Email courtesy:

If the rendering engine doesn’t support the CSS stylesheets or strips away the CSS, the email shall look different from the original design.

Moreover, some email clients also tend to strip away or ignore external stylesheets. So it is important to inline your CSS within the email <body> tag. In fact, most of the email service providers (ESPs) also provide tools to inline your CSS once your email template is coded. In the example below, had the media queries not been inlined, the email viewed on mobile devices would look slightly distorted.

2-Media query CSS-Comparision

(The above image is for representation purpose only)

In conjunction to what I stated earlier about each email client having individual rendering engines, the following are some of the most widely used email clients and associated rendering engines.


3- Email-Client-Share-and-Challenges

(Statistics Credit: Litmus)

4 - Email-Clients-&-Rendering

Now let’s focus on the most commonly faced issues with different email clients.

Gmail (Desktop & Mobile)

As per Statista, the user base of Android was 107.7 million in United States in 2016 and most of the users have Gmail as their primary email account. Also, post Android 4.4, Gmail replaced native Android email client as their default email client (bad decision in my honest opinion).

Thankfully, in September 2016, developers at Google announced support to embedded styles & media queries. The update certainly gave email developers all over the world let out a collective sigh of relief. Support for media query means no more dabbling with hybrid layout wherein the email was coded responsive for other email clients and then placed in a container with a code to render the custom layout for Gmail.

Problem: The subscriber sees the following message “View Entire Message” on opening my email.

5 - gmail-message-clipped-

Solution: Any email that is exceeding 102kb file size automatically gets truncated. Avoid and remove unnecessary style attributes and html tags.

Problem: I configured my email in POP/IMAP configuration. My emails are neither responsive nor do they support any CSS3 elements that Gmail was supposed to render.

Solution: POP / IMAP is mostly used to sync emails from a domain that is out of that specific email client’s environment. Gmail introduced a feature to “Gmailify” your non-Gmail IDs to work in Gmail app. But this opens up a can of worms, as Gmail strips away all CSS elements which means:

  • No Responsive emails
  • No background image support
  • No CSS3 elements

Problem: One of my subscribers loved an email I sent and forwarded it to his friends. But they received a mashed up version of my email.

Solution: Gmail removes any <style> blocks when forwarded. Keep it a practice to inline your CSS to avoid this awkward situation.

Apple Mail (iOS)

One of the most widely used device range is Apple. Apple Mail is a digital playground for email developers as it is the only Webkit-based email client and outperforms no matter what innovation you throw at it. The rendering of CSS3 elements in Apple Mail is just like a walk in the park. Apple Mail is only close to being the perfect email client sans the following rendering issues.

Problem: iOS 10 auto-scales my email and makes the images off-centered, something that did not happen till iOS 9.3.

Solution: The auto scaling can be disabled by adding the following code.

<meta name=”x-apple-disable-message-reformatting”>

Problem: Fixed-positioning doesn’t work anymore

Solution: Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do except shed a few tears for the loss of the functionality.

Problem: iOS automatically formats the text inside <a href> tags in blue and underlined text, which may be contrasting your email design.

6 - Apple Blue Links

Solution: You can specify your text formatting by using text-decoration function. By adding the code text-decoration:none and turning the font color to black (#000000) you can make any hyperlink look like plain text.

<a href=”” style=”text-decoration:none;color:#000000;border:none;”>800-123-456</a>

Outlook series

Microsoft Outlook was the most used email client before Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo became popular and some people are still loyal to it (Kudos to them). Having said that, loyalty comes to bite the email developer in the back as Outlook is the Achilles Heel for most email developers. It is like the stubborn grandfather who is stuck being nostalgic about his Good ‘ol days and gets difficult with age.

Till Outlook 2003, the rendering engine was Internet Explorer and it DID have little CSS support and of course support for GIF animation. This was a good thing compared to what was in store for future versions. The only difficulty faced with Outlook 2003 is that it displays a security message before ALT-Text.

7 - Outlook 2003_no_images

When Microsoft rolled out 2007 version of Outlook, a change in decision to use Microsoft Word as rendering engine, broke all hell loose. Thankfully it ignores comments and hence by including your workaround code within < !– if gtemso 9>, other email clients are not affected. Here’s a list of issues that it gave rise to:

Problem: The GIF in my email is not animating in my subscribers’ Outlook 2007.

8 - Outlook-fallback - GIF

Solution: Microsoft Word is a word processor tool and hence doesn’t play nice with GIF animation; instead it shall display only the first frame of the GIF. So you need to ensure that the message is conveyed in the first frame or have it in the ALT-text as a fallback.

Problem: Outlook tends to hide the background image in my email.

9 -Outlook Background disabled

Solution: Unfortunately, Outlook 2007-2013 do not support Full body, Pattern, Graphic or Section-wide backgrounds by default, but the ideal solution for rendering is to use VML (Vector Markup Language) in the <body> tag of your HTML.

<div style=”background-color:#000000;”>

<!–[if gtemso 9]>

<v:backgroundxmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” fill=”t”>

<v:fill type=”tile” src=”IMAGE.png” color=”#000000″/>



<table height=”100%” width=”100%” cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ border=”0″>


<td valign=”top” align=”left” background=”IMAGE.png”>




Problem: My subscriber complains of emails getting blown up and looking ugly

10 - Outlook 150% DPI Scaling

Solution: Outlook scales images for High DPI displays. In displays greater than 1920×1080 resolution, Outlook tends to blow up images and text. The issue arises since Outlook considers widths and heights specified in HTML attributes and VML code as pixel values and any other pixel values (px) are converted to point (pt) values instead.

So a text of 10pt @ 150% desktop scaling would be equivalent in size to same text in 15pt @ 100% desktop scaling. So email developers need to test their emails at 125% or higher DPI scaling in order to do necessary corrections or follow this workaround.

Problem: There is a page break in between my email

Solution: Like I said, Microsoft Word is a word processor, so Outlook tends to consider long emails as Word Documents and automatically adds a page break at every 1800px. This is rarely observed since nowadays emails are not that long but it is better to be play safe.

Problem: Outlook tends to automatically display Times New Roman instead of specified Fallback font in my email

11 - Outlook Times Font Fallback

When you specify a fallback font for your custom font, Outlook tends to automatically render the email copy in Times New Roman. So we need to ‘force’ the fallback font using the following VML code.

<!–[if mso]>

<style type=”text/css”>

body, table, td {font-family: Primary Font, Fallback web-safe font, fallback system font; !important;}



Problem: There is a weird gap between two sliced images in my email


Solution: Sometimes, email developers slice images in order to speed up the loading time. The email client shall be downloading multiple slices of the image simultaneously, which is way faster than downloading a single big image. But Outlook tends to add a padding between the two sliced images. You can avoid it by adding div{display:block !important} to the <head> tag.

Problem: The Bulleted List in my email doesn’t show in Outlook

12 - Outlook-Bulleted-List

Solution: Outlook doesn’t support <ul> and <li> HTML tags and so you need to include the following workaround.

/*This is for Outlook 2007-10-13-16*/

<!– [if gte mso 9]>


li {text-align:-webkit-match-parent; display:list-item;text-indent: -1em;}



/*End for Outlook 2007-10-13-16*/

/*This is for Other all email clients*/

li {text-align:-webkit-match-parent; display:list-item;}

/*End for Other all email clients*/


  • Email clients don’t support Javascript and Flash owing to security reasons
  • It is safe to stick to <table> layout even though outdated
  • Some email clients strip away external stylesheets. Inline your CSS in <body> tag.
  • Apple Mail, iOS Mail, Outlook for Mac use Safari as the rendering engine and so tend to be the benchmarks for CSS3 support.
  • Unless specified Apple Mail automatically formats hyperlinks with blue underline text.
  • Gmail app doesn’t support media queries, background image for non-Gmail ids.
  • Outlook 2003 had better rendering compared to Outlook 2007
  • Workarounds for Outlook can be hidden in comments and within < !– if gtemso9>
  • Outlook 2007 onwards automatically renders Times new Roman, in case primary font is unavailable.

Wrapping Up:

In the world of email development, you make the best of what is available to you. Every rendering glitch has the same workflow to be followed.

Email deliverability solutions

When going through the different email clients workaround stated above, a thought may pop up in a developer’s mind, to opt for a simpler design or resort to plain text emails. Stay strong, people love extraordinary email design and would love having a good user experience. So try the above workarounds and share your views in the comments below.

P.S: The screenshots of the email are for representation purposes only and all the rendering glitches were simulated by making necessary changes to the CSS and HTML codes.

Author bio:

Kevin, the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks – one of the fastest growing Email design and coding companies, specializes in crafting beautiful email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free Master Email Templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage & share insights with fellow marketers. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter & LinkedIn.

The post How To Put Out Email Client Renderability Fires With Simple Workarounds appeared first on Line25.


15 Creative WordPress Header Designs

There are millions of WordPress blogs on the internet, so to make your blog stand out from the heavy crowd you need to make it really unique!

The following websites have some eye-catching creative WordPress header designs to attract attention, and they have succeeded. Many web gallery’s features the websites listed here, and their designs have sparked much discussion and inspiration across the internet.

We hope you enjoy looking at the sites below. It would be interesting to see how they created their stunning headers.

Deborah Cavenaugh

Deborah Cavenaugh Header Designs

This site’s header shows the creativity of the website’s owner, through a watercolor artwork. Looks artistic, feminine and beautiful

Cult Foo

Cult Foo Header Designs

Cult Foo website has a colorful header design with lots of vectors. It also has an interesting concept, as you can see there are birds that pick up pixels.

Web Designer Wall

Web Designer Wall Header Designs

WebDesignerWall’s header is full of colored swirls and vectors. It was designed in a girly, feminine manner, using mostly pastel colors.


 J.R.Velasco Header Designs

This website design is truly unique! The concept is very difficult to understand, but it looks beautiful nonetheless.


Ozon3 WordPress Header Designs

Ozon3’s header has a beautiful, high-quality vector illustration. The rest is pretty simple. The menu positioning is also interesting. WordPress Header Designs

This website’s header is simple and a perfect fit for a portfolio. It shows a cartoonish drawing of the owner, plus social media links over a beautifully illustrated background. WordPress Header Designs

What we liked about this header design was the Visit Our Blog element in the upper-right corner of the page. Really eye-catching! WordPress Header Designs

This portfolio website has a very smart design as you can understand what’s it about right from the start. As you probably have guessed, this is a game design studio! Header Design

Mospromstroy has been a leader in the Moscow construction market for the last 44 years. This is their presentation website! Header Design

We love how creative this website’s header is! The vector elements blend perfectly with the content of the page.

N Design Studio

N Design Studio Header Design

This header has some very feminine elements, like roses and rainbows, designed in vector format. The pink peacock is also a nice detail. Header Design

This website has an overall simple design, but the header is what makes it stand out!

Jason Bradbury

Jason Bradbury Header Design

This interesting, vibrant colored header filled with unusual vector illustrations has a nice, unique element added to it in the right corner, a book’s “Buy now”button!

Web Designer Depot

Web Designer Depot Header Design

Web Designer Depot’s website header is abundant with nice vector graphics and colored elements. The white, large logo is the main point of attraction. Header Design

This website has an overall vintage feel combined with cartoon elements and lots of textures. We love it!

The post 15 Creative WordPress Header Designs appeared first on Web Design Blog | Magazine for Designers.


Design your way

People tend to use VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, for plenty of reasons. And if these are free VPN software, then it’s even better.

However, the vast majority of them either want to hide where they are or want to hide who they are.

If this sounds strange to you, you might be curious as to why you would want either of these things.

Many people would rather avoid having their online activities be traceable, and this is especially true in some parts of the world, where there’s a serious problem with internet surveillance. This mostly depends on what you’re doing online but to each their own.

A good example of this would be the signing of the bill by the United States President Trump, which legally allows ISPs in the US to sell the user data. This severely degrades the privacy of users and is a very valid reason for wanting to hide online.

As far as hiding where you are, this is useful for accessing websites that you usually wouldn’t be able to use in some parts of the world. For example, sites like YouTube Red are still unavailable in many countries, and so is software like Spotify.

Using geo-locking to block visitors from specific countries is a very popular thing nowadays, and VPNs can help you bypass this.

Below, you have a list of free VPNs that you can use for whatever you please. Free VPN services like this can keep you anonymous on the Internet, and give you access to sites and services previously inaccessible. Finding a good free VPN can be a bit tricky, but the list below tries to help as much as possible.

Be cautious: Recently, there have been numerous reports of malware being disguised as an application that otherwise looks harmless. This has been especially true for VPNs, especially ones for mobile platforms. If there’s a freshly launched free VPN software, and it seems too good to be true, it usually is, and you should stay away from it.

However, if you’re aware of what you’re getting into, or you simply can’t justify or afford a good paid VPN, here are a couple of the top free VPN services you can get at the moment.


surfeasy.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

A Canadian-made piece of software, SurfEasy is one of the best free VPN you could go for. It is owned by Opera, which is among the best browsers on the market and is fairly similar to TunnelBear.

The apps are incredibly easy, and you can find your way around them without many issues. You won’t notice any serious speed issues either, and there’s decent protection to add up to everything.

For starters, their free plan only gives you 2 gigabytes of data, but if you’d rather stay free, you can get more by recommending the service to others. There’s also a paid plan here, and at $6.49/month, it is a very compelling offer.

Worlds- Top free VPN software and services you should start using

Made in Malaysia, is a fairly restricted VPN provider and one of the best free VPN software for Windows. It gives you a 2-gigabyte cap per month, which is enough to get some privacy when you really need it, but not much more to be honest.

You could also use it to unblock certain websites that might be unavailable at the moment.

There are 28 servers, and 22 countries to choose from, and the OpenVPN encryption keeps solid connection speeds and decent security. As with almost all free VPN services, this one is restricted as well, meaning it isn’t very useful if you’re online all the time.

However, despite that, is a very good free VPN service, and one of the all-round best ones nowadays.


tunnelbear.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

This is the people’s favorite, and a great free VPN software that is designed to be fun and easy to use, yet offer decent functionality. Security is kept at high levels, and this is confirmed by the fact that TunnelBear doesn’t keep any logs.

They also have a very tight privacy policy, so if this is one of your concerns, you’re good to go here. When you’re comparing the free and paid options, it’s worth noting that the free one gives you all of the server locations that the paid one has, but there’s a data cap of 500MB.

This isn’t a lot, but you can earn more with social shares, which isn’t very hard if you need it.


cyberghostvpn.com_en_us Top free VPN software and services you should start using

CyberGhost easily makes the best free VPN for PC list. It is one of the best options, and the free version is on par with some of the premium, paid versions by other competitors. There is no data limit, and setting everything up will take less than 10 minutes.

The encryption is as good as you’ll get with a premium service, and there’s a user-friendly desktop app that just makes things even easier.

There are a few things that you should know, though. Even though it’s great for entry-level users, power users will want to know that the free version comes with ads, and during peak hours there are often queues, so you might need to wait a little before connecting.

You’re also limited in terms of server locations as well, which may or may not be a problem depending on what you need.


vpngate.net_en_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

A university project by the University of Tsukuba in Japan, VPNGate takes a different approach. Instead of using a centralized server, it runs off of volunteer computers that are interconnected. You will also find that mirrors are provided on a daily basis, just to keep things going in case the main site goes down for some reason.

There are regular updates to keep improving it, and it is open source.

The goal of the entire project is to give users with strict government censorship access to blocked websites. Torrents, P2P and any other activities that may be illegal aren’t allowed, and the project keeps logs.

They also state that if asked, they would comply with police investigations, which is why this software is only good for accessing websites that would otherwise be blocked. And, given that it runs on machines around the globe that are purely volunteers, the speeds can also be a little low for some.


spotflux.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

One more ad-supported solution, it is one of the best choices for people who download or stream a lot of videos. It does everything, from blocking dangerous sites to a “set it and forget it” mindset. It also works on multiple platforms, and there’s a Chrome extension for the users who’d rather not download a full desktop version.

You will even find a privacy test that checks websites you visit for tracing cookies. You’ll need to shell out for the premium in order to block them, though.

As far as the premium goes, the $38/year asking price is not much, by any criteria. Compared to the free one, you get access to Spotflux’ premium network, as well as removal of all ads.


vpnbook.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

VPNBook is a little different than the others. There is no premium service, meaning that everything is included in the free one. This means no service limitation and no bandwidth caps, but there is a catch.

Guidance in setting up is minimal, and you will need it as there is no software and no installer. You merely get a list of servers and a choice of either OpenVPN or PPTP VPN. PPTP VPN has better support throughout the popular platforms, but it is much easier for both content providers and governments to block.

OpenVPN on the other hand is more secure, but it does require extra effort by downloading a client, as well as VPNBook’s bundles that include configurations and certificates. Servers are located throughout mainland Europe, UK and the United states, which should be enough.


windscribe.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

With Windscribe you have a choice of either a full-on desktop version for Windows or a lightweight, Chrome browser version. Even though the main focus falls on the VPN network, you will also find a lot of additional tools that can be excellent from a privacy standpoint.

There’s an ad blocker, as well as a tracker blocker, and even a firewall that doesn’t expose your IP in case your connection is lost for any reason. And it is all included in the free version.

Where the free version is limited is the servers’ locations. You only get servers in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Canada, the UK and the United States. If you want another 40 countries to choose from, you will need to spend $7.50 per month.

Hotspot Shield

hotspotshield.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

Hotspot Shield has one goal, and that is to protect your online privacy. HTTPS encryption is used to protect your personal information, and you can use it to bypass the Internet censorship and access any service or website.

There are even compression technologies and malware protection that reduce the data used and protect you from websites that don’t really have friendly intentions.


psiphon3.com_en_index.html_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

Another decent free tool, you get a combination of SSH, HTTP Proxy and VPN technologies, all combined to give you an open and unrestricted access to the worldwide web. Censored knowledge is fully accessible, and the borders imposed by your campus, company or country can be bypassed with ease.


betternet.co_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

Betternet was made to give you access to any website you might think of, from any country you might be located in. You can surf anonymously, without worrying about leaving a trace, and blocked websites won’t be an issue anymore.

Your data will be protected from both surveillance, and hackers as well, which is always welcome nowadays.


privatetunnel Top free VPN software and services you should start using

A decent entry-level option that is available for plenty of platforms, such as Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows, PrivateTunnel works to keep you safe when you’re online. You get a choice between a free package, and a paid one, given that you need one.

The paid options offer plenty of flexibility. You have 200MB of data to use as you please, whenever you need it. Once you’ve used it up, you can buy more data, in packages of either 20GB or 100GB, depending on how much you think you’ll need.

This is great as you only buy more data once you need it and doesn’t limit you with a monthly subscription. However, if you want to use it more often, or simply don’t turn it off at all, there’s a $30/year subscription package that nets you unlimited data.

Even though connections might sometimes be a little stubborn and slow, you will find that PrivateTunnel is a great choice with a welcomed twist on the subscription packages. It prides on being incredibly easy to use, and you have no excuse for not even trying it out.


freelan.org_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

This one isn’t for the masses, and novice users beware – you might get confused if you don’t know your way around a command line. You get a completely free, open source tool, which doesn’t limit you in any way.

The trick is that you don’t really get the software, but instead you get a set of network drivers that control all of your web traffic. This is worth mentioning, as technical users who want to have complete control over things will find that it is great.

Novice users, however, won’t get the step-by-step set up and usage instructions that other services offer.


opera Top free VPN software and services you should start using

Before you jump on me saying that Opera is a browser and not a VPN, hear me out. For a while now, Opera offers a built-in VPN service, and it is great. It isn’t an extension, but it is instead a built-in part of the browser that you can simply enable from the settings menu.

The best thing? It doesn’t offer any limitations as far as data caps or network speeds go. As with any VPN, yes, your speed will drop a little, but that is to be expected. It is only limited in the fact that there aren’t really a lot of server locations, but the service is only a few months old, and locations are expected to be added soon.


finchvpn.com_ Top free VPN software and services you should start using

An extremely reliable and completely free option, FinchVPN is full of features. There are plenty of servers for you to choose from, and the control panel is very easy, which means that beginners can easily find their way around it.

Everything, from your activities to your web connections, is encrypted, and there are no logs saved. You can get it on macOS, Windows, Linux and Android.

Tor Project

torproject.org_index.html_.e Top free VPN software and services you should start using

Just like Opera, the Tor project is not exactly a VPN, yet it finds its way in this guide. Running on volunteer relays all around the entire globe, Tor is an open source software which relies on Onion Routing, a highly secure layered encryption.

Your entire data is encrypted at least three times. This is done in a very simple way. Each time you send data, it goes through at least three volunteers’ machines or nodes in the network, and it is encrypted every time it passes through. Your IP address will be the one of a volunteer to anyone who tries to check it, and there is no way of being identified, mainly due to the sheer number of nodes.

The only drawback that is worth mentioning is the connection speed. Bouncing everything greatly depends on the volunteers’ connection speed, and it can be considerably slow. P2P sharing is also not allowed, due to the speeds being severely slowed down with it. However, if you can bypass this, Tor is one of the best options you could go for.


Even though everyone would like to get something for free, any complete and fully functional VPN will charge a subscription fee, and they have every right to do so.

You can look at it as an investment that gets you access to a safe, private, malware-free browsing and unlimited access to browsing anything without anyone knowing who, or where you are. However, if that is really not your cup of tea, you can go for any of the free options offered above.

The post Top free VPN software and services you should start using appeared first on Design your way.


The Cash Box Blueprint

Most Reading