Responsive Email Without Media Queries?

I read Nicole Merlin’s article about Responsive Email Without Media Queries. I look up to Nicole as an email leader, superior developer, and super nice person.

Nicole’s article is not the first I’ve seen tackle the issue of achieving responsive emails without media queries. I’m glad people are pushing email forward like this. They help us all do what we do, better. They help us overcome hurdles. They make us think. I’m grateful for all this.

To be fair, Nicole’s article simply explains how to do it and doesn’t scream “this is how everyone should do things.” But something about responsive email design without media queries doesn’t feel right. So much extra work to get the simplest of layouts working. Let’s be honest, aside from a few older or obscure email clients, we’re doing this all for Google Gmail and Inbox.

Google takes mobile-friendliness v seriously on the web, I gotta think it’s only a matter of time until they fix email. When they do, maybe the time spent on these workarounds will be considered the thing that drove Google to fix their email clients. I don’t know.

But I’m still struggling with whether or not this extra effort is worth it in the (hopefully) short term. Since email’s aren’t outright broken, Google could fix this at any point, and I have other sh*t to do, I choose to spend my time elsewhere. (Until someone says responsive Gmail is a requirement, I guess.)

In closing,

( ° ͜ʖ͡°)╭∩╮ Gmail


I wrote this Original Thinkpiece™ in 30min. while listening to ♫♪ Broken Social Scene ♪♫. It was not proofread nor fact-checked. Pretty great.


Epilogue: This topic led to a lively discussion on Twitter. It sounded like most emailers sided with spending the extra time building media-query-less emails for Gmail. I'm happy most people think it's worth spending time on mobile Gmail.

But please don't forget that priorities vary. I can't spend 100% of my time on email and have yet to experience a client insist upon a shape-shifting email in Gmail. So it's not "Mobile Gmail should be ignored," but rather "Mobile Gmail is cost prohibitive to optimize for."

For me. Your mileage may vary.

But the great thing is that this conversation took place. It’ll likely be the thing that makes me take the first step in making my templates ‘Uber Responsive’. I hang around and chat with smart people and they push me learn new things. Seems like a net win to me.

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