I’m sorry Mike, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Okay, so maybe not right now, maybe not even 2018, but soon. As digital assistants begin to live in our homes, know all about us and plot to take over the world, we might not read as much, including email — but we will listen.

Consider this:

“Alexa, read me my emails” [instruction]

“Alexa, read my last email from Brand X” [Alexa can do more]

“Alexa, tell me any good offers in my inbox”. [Alexa knows what I like]

That’s a fairly linear ascension, but soon becomes:

“Excuse me, Mike The Magnificent, I know you are talking about buying a…

A few thoughts from the latest #LitmusLive conference a few days ago in London. I was lucky enough to be there with some of the ActionRocket 🚀 crew.

Here are the silly ones:

And here are the more serious ones:

Some really great talks, generating interesting conversation points and ideas came from this — which is one of the best things about the Litmus Conferences in general. I was 100% on the Design & Dev track (as always) so here’s my 2 cents (pence):

Highlight reel 📽

Accessibility — this was the overarching theme, which is positive, progressive and inclusive…


I was really taken by this latest “series of 7" on Twitter. I need to explain each choice as it’s about the feels. So here goes:

  1. Satellite Warrior (Amstrad CPC 464). My fav game of all time because it combined buying & selling (#business) with designing & building fighting robots and taking over the universe. Pretty solid. I played this game for hours & hours 2-player with my neighbour, who was also my best friend. I was about 8 or 9. We also played Gauntlet (c64) for similar amounts of time.
  2. Battletoads (Mega Drive). My parents created a points…

I haven’t posted in #ActionRocketLabs since September 2015 . For anyone who has missed it, something called Taxi happened in earnest. It has been launched into the emailosphere and is keeping a lot of people busy around here.

I have been tasked with making some client templates for this CMS, with the added benefit of being able to feedback to, and get help from its creators.

Here are a couple of things I have learned, which some email designer/developer types out there might be interested in:

1. Email templates, which are a naturally constrained medium, can be set free.


There’s been some chat in the email community and at ActionRocket HQ recently about social media, particularly Snapchat, and its influence upon the email channel. A few quick thoughts on this:

A fundamental concept of Snapchat is its transience. Originally snaps would disappear after 10 seconds or so, then this changed (more granular, you got option to view again etc.). Screenshotting and a furore/reminder that the concept isn’t truly disposable aside, Snapchat does a great job of creating and maintaining that ‘throwaway vibe’. Look at some of the Snapchat big hitters; the rough nature of the content is part of…

I’m not a fan of best practices. However, they are a very useful starting point. Rather like using ROI as the basis for every single decision — it’s not going to get you to the next level, but it will certainly get you through.

Here are 8 best practice points and a little commentary on each.

  1. Using text for text & image for image, not images with text. Sounds easy, but it isn’t always so straight forward.
    — it is essential for accessibility
    — renders sharper because it is essentially vector based rather than pixels
    — is easier…

Following on from context as a core email concept: mobile email has traditionally meant “on the go”, so “make it snappy”. We have less time to make an impact, ever diminishing concentration spans…. It’s pretty solid thinking, however, it’s starting to feel more like “old-world” mobile email chat.

Here’s why:

  1. ‘Mobile’ means a lot of things. A lot of people use mobile as their primary means to consume internet. That means at home, more than anywhere else, and not actually ‘mobile’.
  2. Sometimes recipients are going to be more engaged on mobile vs desktop (think on the train with time to…

Recently ran a twitter poll to see if #emailmarketing people know what context means and/or measure the attitude towards peak interactive/kinetic email.

Results. 43% don’t know what context means or simply really hate the idea of gamification in email. That’s fine.

The understanding of context, is one of the most important principles of having an opinion. Context is what should drive decisions, not only justify them. It requires thought and investigation. Empathy. “What if?”

Context: the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.

Imagine email as…

Kinetic/Interactive email is not a silver bullet, but it is pushing the peaks of progressive enhancement and opening doors for email & web creators everywhere, to make use of some powerful-where-supported techniques, especially on mobile devices.

This type of technique is not universally loved. There are legitimate concerns that it may detract from the core reason to send email: communicate your message, regardless, the email space will and indeed must continue to evolve. The power will come with knowing when the context is correct to use these techniques.

Email has survived years of constraint and now the brakes are coming…

Mike Ragan

Designer & Developer. Some older blog posts here: http://labs.actionrocket.co

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