Dreamweaver started to lead the way as a tool for building with standards-compliant code several years ago, and deprecated layout mode in CS4 that made it easier to work with table-based design—something that needed to finally be banished from the web. One of the downsides to this though was that it meant to produce email templates that you really needed to get mucky with code, and a lot of (non-web) designers—the poor souls that had to produce email templates—didn’t want to go anywhere near that in if they could avoid it.
The good news is that Dreamweaver CC2015 recently introduced starter templates for HTML email, and they’re pretty-well thought out, and easy to use.
Finding The Starter Templates
From the Welcome Screen that should appear when you launch Dreamweaver, you’ll see Starter Templates in the centre column, at the bottom, click there and you’ll be taken through to the new document dialog, with templates preselected—you can also just launch the new document dialog if you already have a file open and select the Starter Templates option from there.
- Basic—a “mobile first” approach that is easy to implement, using a single column with large text and CTA’s that will look good on screens of all sizes.
- Fluid—a reflowable approach that is roughly equivalent to what is known as a “liquid layout” in web-speak. Works best perhaps for text-heavy layouts as they don’t have so much control over the relationship between text and imagery.
- Responsive—uses CSS media queries to change the layout of email, adjusting the size of images and text, and sometimes even selectively hiding or swapping content between differing device sizes.
Your document is generated, ready for your modifications. The code itself is commented throughout, so you’ll know get an idea of what it does; if you’re not overly familiar with working with code, you’ll find that very useful.
Working with the Templates
It’s a good idea perhaps to switch to the Design workspace (the workspace switcher should be at the top-right of the interface, in the Application bar) as this will give you ready access to the Properties Inspector—handy for changing things like links, etc. without going into the code.
The text is straightforward—simply replacer the placeholder text with your own. Making links in the text is really easy; simply select the word(s) you’d like to be the link and a widget will appear (if you’re in Live view – otherwise use the Properties Inspector)—click the link icon and enter the target address into the textfiel
The image placeholders can be swapped out for your—remotely hosted (see the boxout below if you’re new to HTML email)—images by clicking the “hot dog” menu to the left of the image tag (as shown below) and then entering the url of your images into the textfield, in the pop-up bubble. It’s also where you can enter the alt text for those who read their email with images turned off, which is a best-practice assumption to make in any event.
You may still need to copy your code out and run it through an inliner tool—just search on something like “HTML inline tool email” and you’ll find that there are plenty to choose from—to prep your email for clients like gmail, but that is no big deal—maybe if this catches on the DW team will look at including that in the future…