May 9, 2006

Windows Live Mail and Yahoo Mail Beta – How they affect your email designs

Th_livebetaWe just sent a MailChimp campaign to our customers (see it here), and while we were testing the HTML email in all the different email apps, we noticed that Microsoft is inviting people to beta test their new "Windows Live" email application.

So we gave it a try, along with Yahoo’s new mail app, which is currently in beta as well.

If you design HTML emails, you should take a look at these screenshots…


1. First, here’s what the email looked like.

2. And here’s what it looks like in Windows Live Mail, at a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels:

Msnlivescreenshot2

As you can see, you’ve only got about 430 pixels (or so) in their preview pane to show your logo, or something intriguing enough to make them click the "Full Message View" link.

If you think 430 pixels is tough to work with, take a look at how things look in AOL 9’s preview pane. Yikes! You’ve only got around 194 pixels there! And if they view it "full screen" you get about 540 pixels.

The only other thing we noticed about Windows Live Mail Beta was that our &#60P&#62 tags didn’t seem to have the proper line breaks. The paragraphs all just mushed up together. No biggie (hey, it’s beta). Here’s a screenshot of what we mean.

3. Here’s what it looks like in Yahoo! Mail Beta, at a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels:

Yahoobeta2

Hey, not too shabby. They give plenty of room for the preview pane (more than 600 pixels), so no complaints here.

So what does this all mean to email marketers and designers? As more people switch over to these "rich, drag-and-drop" style interfaces, you’ll need to redesign your HTML emails so that enough of them "peek through" their preview screens. Consider left-aligning your logos, or making sure some kind of useful text appears in the top left of your messages.