I’m in an unfortunate position where I get to slice up PSDs and create single-use HTML emails for marketing purposes at least twice a week. It’s work, but it’s by no means interesting or fun.
Like most folks, I’ve nailed down a process derived from years of battling with the major email clients (my favorite client being Outlook 2007/2010). My process works. On average, it takes me an hour per email to go from PSD to a mashup of JPGs and HTML markup that displays correctly in most clients.
Spending an hour per email isn’t that bad, but why spend two hours a week pushing pixels when you can be spending that time doing anything else?
Not wanting to waste another minute on HTML email, a few weeks ago I spent three hours coding up a quick and dirty Node app that uses a blend of CoffeeScript and Eco to quickly generate all of the needed markup for my emails from just a few lines of code. How few? Depends on how you slice up that PSD, but it’s possible to generate full emails in 30 lines of code or less.
You just pass the app this file and in return you get a new file chock full of ugly, disgusting HTML markup that works across most email clients without further adjustment or tweaking. Hooray!
So far, I’ve only been able to use my new tool a handful of times, but now I’m finding that I can go from PSD to HTML in 15-20 minutes. In the amount of time it used to take me to one email, I’m doing 3-4 of them.
That’s an extra 40-45 minutes per email per week, or an extra 48–72 hours a year, that I get to spend having fun by refining this new app or coming up with new ways to make my other processes more efficient.
I’ll take it.