Design and Workflow Blog

How visual email builders reinforce bad design practices

They primarily use outdated design practices that cause unintended issues and wasted effort.

Even though there has been and continues to be progress in email rendering and accessibility, many people still seem to think that email is stuck in the table-based days. Coding with tables is only needed for Outlook which currently stands at just nine percent of average email client usage. It’s currently a coin toss between whether Microsoft finally decides to update its rendering engine, or people just stop using it altogether.

So why are there so many emails still built using tables for their structure? Because many visual email editors used to design an email from scratch still default to outputting table-based code!

Ghost tables are annoying

The way to output tables only for Outlook is to use the ghost tables technique. This can be difficult to work with as it requires plugging in-between your div-based structure. On a technical level, it may not be possible for a visual builder to output well, and it’s likely that the technique can only be used via hand-coding only.

So visual builders end up using only tables and eliminate div-based code best practices altogether. This leads to code bloat from unnecessary nesting of tables. And a more rigid design as it has to work within that nested table structure.

The lowest common denominator

Visual builders have to account for a wide range of email clients for various cases as they need to take into consideration all of their customers and customers’ potential audience. So there is a lot of extra code that’s included that you may not need for your particular audience, or specifically for your design!

This means that there is a chance of potential side effects from the added complexity of the code. And your email takes longer to load. And Gmail cuts off emails with a certain amount of code.

The only way resolve for this is to custom tailor options to your design requirements. And this again is something that is very difficult for visual builders to do, and best done by hand-crafting your code.

So because of this (unecessary) level of legacy support, I would go as far as to say that visual builders are the reason email design remains behind!

Blocks Edit works around any HTML code for you to visually build your emails from. Watch how it’s done.

Photo of Ovi Demetrian Jr Ovi Demetrian Jr