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I'm an email developer and totally not a spammer. Ask me anything.

scrabill profile image Shannon Crabill twitter logo github logo ・1 min read

No junk mail

From spam to scams, email gets a bad rap sometimes.

As an email developer, we're faced with challenges such as a lack of email standards and inconsistent rendering across devices.

Ask me anything.


Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash

twitter logo DISCUSS (24)
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What's your favorite provider in terms of customizability?

I use MailChimp. You can custom code your emails, but they still add their own table wrappers. My biggest issue with that is they don't add role="presentation" to those tables. I've added it to the tables in my custom coded content, but I can't get around that.

Also, do you have any tools you use to assist you with the table stuff?


It's been a while since I've used them, but MailChimp was also my go-to. They are user-friendly, good documentation/resources and the free-plan is great if you are a small-biz or are looking to give email development a try.

Hmm, right now I'm not using any tools to assist with building tables. I'll admit that I'm a little slow to adopt frameworks for email. At work, we built our template system internally and stuck with that since.

Are you using any cools currently? Or are you looking to try something new?


What's your process look like from concept for campaign?

Do you use any frameworks to assist in generating the email-friendly tables?

How do you handle testing, and do you test on mobile devices/different apps?


For the most part, my work is production based. We have a queue with tasks and each task is (to simply) a request to put X content in Y template. On occasion, there's a request to update text in a banner image or add some dynamic functionality, but for the most part, I'm adding content to a pre-determined template and doing some basic styling (adding links, bold, &nbsp to prevent widows, etc).

No out of the box frameworks currently, but I've looked into them. We built our framework internally and it's fully responsive!

For testing, we used an email rendering service (Litmus and Email on Acid are popular ones) in addition to a good-ol "let me email myself a copy to see how it looks in Gmail" testing :)


I was an email developer for a long time so I know the struggle! What platform is your current arch enemy?

Mine was Outlook 2013 for a while, but what was most annoying about fixing Outlook problems was the amount of Microsoft stooges in StackOverflow that would just point everyone to the MSDN article about the supported CSS properties which was often wrong or wouldn't address weird problems like how table cells couldn't be less than 15px tall ¯_(ツ)_/¯


Welcome to the club! Are you in the Email Geeks Chat group?

Outlook had always been a pain point. Where I work, we mostly email people who have company email addresses, so Outlook is a big part of our audience that we have to be aware of. Lately, Outlook 365 has been rolled out which has introduced new quirks.


How the deliverability concerns change when the recipient group expands from 1k, to 100k, to 1m and beyond?


Where do you see email going in ~5 years? How will the clients/ux/expectations evolve around the protocol?


Answer as a professional and as a person: How do you feel about GMail showing images by default now (which enables tracking)? (I know it's ancient news, and I know there's a setting for it.)

Also: What's the fastest and easiest way to make people understand they don't need to have an email signature when using email to have a conversation by hand, let alone one with embedded images?
Is there any research I can send small/medium companies to show how that not only makes them look stupid but actually harms their bottom line?


As a professional, great! Images loading by default means I'll get more accurate open/click reporting. Good data means I can—ideally—better tailor future communication to what my subscribers respond best to. I see this as a win-win.

For me as a person, I don't mind that images load by default. I'm usually on a strong wifi connection so there's no loss in experience or data for me. Other people may not feel the same way. Some people may find loading images by default obtrusive or unwanted.

I've had a few people ask me about email signatures lately. I don't know of any hard data but I'll take a look. I will say that there runs a risk of images being blocked/removed by a recipient's email client—such as when emailing to another company. Keeping your info as text and links would be my advice.

More to come!


hey Shannon, thanks for the AMA.
May be what I am asking is too generic but we are facing this problem right now in our firm.

What are the major reasons for suddenly ending up in Gmail promotions tab ?
We send regular 2-3/week digest emails to our customers. Till 2 weeks back we used to get good open rates (around 12%) . Then suddenly open rates dropped to 2-3% . Upon further investigation we found out they are suddenly ending up in Promotions tab on Gmail.

Any pointers as to how we can avoid the promotions tab will be greatly helpful.


Sounds like what I'd want to end up in my promotions tab, even if it's not actually offering me any coupons.
2 times a week is incredibly often.
How personal are these emails?

These 6ish things literally happened to you and you don't seem to have seen the notifications yet, maybe you are forgetting to do something?

vs You and 1500 other people may be interested in this exact same ordered set of things that happened on the platform over the past two days.


Thanks for doing the AMA!

How feasible is it to self-host our own mail server today? What software stack and hosting should we use for the same? I have heard a lot of talk 3-4 years back about the centralization of email in hands of GMail, MS Outlook and Amazon with a few niche providers like fastmail and protonmail and issues with reliable delivery of email if you use your own servers.


How can I make my resume standout as an email developer with no job experience?



My advice would be to try to draw connections between what experience you do have (job-related, course work-related, personal projects, etc) to what skills are relevant to the email developer role you are applying for.

Knowing the difference between coding for email and web would be something to showcase, your experience with browser testing, responsive design, saving assets for the web, etc are skills that are relevant as an email developer.


Is there anything like bootstrap framework for emails?


Yes! There are several email frameworks out there. I learn about a new one every few months :)

Here's a repo with some of the common email frameworks listed


How feasible do you think it would be to build a major decentralised social network on top of the email infrastructure?


What would you suggest to use in case of building a custom email composer for newsletters?


How should I think about email? Any useful models/metaphors?


I don't know what you're talking about...

Raven chewing


What's the right situation to have a text-only email send out vs. a designed text email vs. a fully-laid-out email?


Do you have any observations on click/open tracking best practices?

Classic DEV Post from Aug 4 '19

You're not worth hiring unless...

Shannon Crabill profile image
Software Engineer && Email Developer