As with every type of construction, there exists a standard where consumers and industry professionals come together to define a minimal definition of quality. That definition must be met to guarantee that everyone’s investment is sound, secure, and will last into the future. These standards protect not only the consumer’s investment, but a piece of mind and safety in working with vendors who provide these services. In turn, vendors can define their level of quality and success to those standards, which help delineate a possibly overcrowded field of competition.
The same needs exist with the construction of HTML email. Standards for HTML emails is not a new idea in the least, but it is an idea that needs more and more awareness to have momentum. Standards for HTML emails would allow the creative industry to perform a greater service to their clients by providing a quality product time and time again. Currently, the HTML email arena is lacking these standards, which make the creative industry at ends with the software developers who produce the industry’s leading email clients. These independent spirits, the Outlooks, Eudoras, and faction of webmail clients such as Google and Yahoo, all abide by their own definition of what HTML markup is acceptable in our communications. Under the guise of protecting the consumer, they actually produce a cost to the consumer in the increased time and effort required by companies to send truly permission-based communications.
It’s time for all users of email to start looking into what they can do to help the cause. W3C, the standards group for the web is a great place to start thinking about this topic. The last meeting on the conversation about HTML was in 2007. In addition there are other groups like the Email Standards Group who are putting on a great campaign to help raise awareness. Lend them your contact list, or see what you can do to help bridge the divide. Every step will bring us closer to a safer, more productive means of communication through email.