When is e-mail like a bad website?

Nokia sent a friend an HTML e-mail message. I’ve broken it into five screen shots, because it won’t fit on one:

  1. Nokia “e-mail” part 1
  2. Nokia “e-mail” part 2
  3. Nokia “e-mail” part 3
  4. Nokia “e-mail” part 4
  5. Nokia “e-mail” part 5

A word about the fonts. These are not my default settings. They are controlled by Nokia, on the assumption that 9px Arial is universally legible and attractive.

A word about the layout: I can reconfigure it by changing the width of my e-mail client’s message window, but no matter how I play with the width, I never get the layout the sender intended.

Nokia is trying to cram a bad web page—the kind of web page that is all graphics and almost no textual content—into a container that can’t hold it. It’s like pouring wine into a sieve. I’m not saying the graphic designers who created this message lack talent; from what I can tell, they are gifted indeed, and able to do nice work under what must be harsh production deadlines.

I’m not saying the layout is broken for everyone, or that there couldn’t possibly be an MF Doom fan who also digs Fall Out Boy. Clearly the layout must work correctly in some applications; doubtless, too, there must be some users who enjoy getting craploads of musician photos in their e-mail in-box. Nokia wouldn’t do this if it didn’t work for somebody. Responding to this post by saying, “Funny, it looks okay in my e-mail client” will miss the point that e-mail, as a medium, really doesn’t want to carry all this freight.

Related posts

Eight points for better e-mail relationships

Okay, so under the right circumstances, when people have requested it, e-mail can be a platform for design. Here are eight ways to make it work better (and avoid pissing off people who hate HTML mail).

E-mail is not a platform for design

ASCII means never having to say you’re sorry.

[tags]HTML mail, e-mail, marketing, internet marketing, design[/tags]