I've been doing HTML emails for years (I can't seem to shake it).
I find myself telling designers/managers/content creaters that email design is not web design. We aren't building a website. It is a totally different experience. I understand trying to promote the brand, but nobody wants your website's navigation menu in an email. It will get deleted immediately.
I think most people in email design are in a similar boat. I've found that a lot of email marketing and design is an educational problem—making the stakeholders aware of the limitations and unique opportunities with email. It's an ongoing battle, but one worth fighting.
I have joked with peers in the past about just using images, but it rings true and works (in most cases). When layout gets convoluted and mark-up bloats you need to think of a simpler solution.
This is great. Confirms a lot of things I've been doing over the years. I've recently been using Zurb's Ink framework which is really cool. It helps to have a core understanding of the limitations of HTML emails but it's also great to have something that simplifies and standardises markup.
I was particularly interested in your grunt workflow. I use grunt in a similar way. Instead of using assemble I use grunt-includes to do a similar thing. It's very basic HTML includes but allows me to share headers and footers between multiple emails. My workflow isn't ideal so I'm keen to dig in to how yours works.
Nice. Yeh I can't imagine not firing up this grunt workflow each time I need to create an email. Makes things so much more manageable.
Great read, much needed. Thank you!