The Return of Text

Lately, I’m just as likely to read my e-mail on my mobile device as I am at my desktop.  That’s fine – that’s the power of mobility.  The problem is that many of the e-mails I receive are graphically formated and unfortunately, the Mobile Outlook on my device doesn’t gracefully support graphical messages, making these messages virtually unreadable.

This observation takes me back to the boom days of the Internet.  Maybe you can remember when folks started trying to make their e-mail newsletters more attractive using HTML formatting.  If you remember those days, you can probably remember there were lots of challenges.  Many e-mail clients didn’t support formatted messages, or maybe not in standardized ways.  AOL users were particularly encumbered, which created real problems for newsletter publishers since AOL represented the largest population of Internet users.

If, like me, you were actually wrestling to effectively send out messages that neither had to revert to the lowest common denominator of text nor exclude graphically challenged readers, then these memories are not fond.  You may recall needing to give your subscribers options of whether to receive formatted or text messages.  Or you may recall trying to send multi-part messages with alternative text versions embedded along with the graphical versions. 

You probably also remember rejoicing the day when finally it seemed that the whole world had moved on to e-mail clients capable of properly presenting graphical messages.

Well guess what.  As mobile e-mail becomes an increasing part of our lives, we may just need to return to those dark days of supporting text-based messages.

Hopefully, e-mail client vendors will recognize this problem and quickly add in full support for formatted messages.  Meanwhile, it may be time to brush-up on your multi-part message skills…

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