Looking for something to keep you up all night, pacing the floor in frustration? Try coding margins and (to a lesser extent) padding into your email HTML.
Last week, I experienced the inexplicable: my newsletter redesign worked perfectly in AOL, Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail. It originally rendered perfectly in Outlook 2007, but when I began clicking links something strange would happen. Big chunks of text and graphics would temporarily disappear.
We began testing where one would first assume: the links themselves. But they weren’t the problem.
After much trial-and-error, consulting every email expert I know, and a great deal of explicit language, I narrowed the problem down to margins and paddings, two elements that Outlook doesn’t fully support.
I took all the margin code out first. After retesting, I found that this fixed the problem for all but one link (originally, about 10 were malfunctioning).
Then I took out all the padding code, and my entire email worked. A few people whose opinion I trust have told me that padding usually doesn’t pose this problem in Outlook, but having experienced four days of frustration, I’m not sure I’ll ever be willing to take the risk again.
Here are two sources of information I found tremendously helpful in trying to sort out what Outlook can and cannot do: