Between mobile, Gmail, and Outlook, HTML email is a three-headed dog from hell.
Coding regular emails is hard enough by itself. Making them responsive shouldn’t add to the headache. A few simple, but solid patterns are all that’s needed to optimize emails for small screens.
That’s what Cerberus is.
It’s just a few responsive email patterns that go a long way. The code blocks are compartmentalized so they may be used, removed, combined, and nested to build an email.
Each template contains code comments and has good support among popular email clients.
Good for simple layouts such as transactional and single column emails.
This template focuses on a fluid layout that sizes itself using percentage-based widths to shrink horizontally on narrow screens. This email layout does not reconfigure at different screen sizes.
If you want a basic template to handle rich text and images, this is a good baseline.
Good for more complicated, shape-shifting email layouts that work on some mobile clients.
This template uses media queries to reconfigure the layout for different screen sizes for email clients that support media queries. However, mobile clients that don’t support media queries or the
<style> tag will display a shrunk version of the desktop layout instead. This applies to some versions of Gmail (still) and Yahoo, as well as a number of international email clients (more info on that here).
If you’re already comfortable with media queries, the learning curve is relatively low. If total device coverage isn’t required, you can create a responsive email the same way you create a responsive website.
This template uses a hybrid approach to reconfigure the layout for different screen sizes for email clients regardless of media query support. At its core, it uses max-width and min-width to impose rigid baselines (allowing some movement) and imposes a fixed, wide width for Outlook who is shackled to desktop anyway. Once a mobile-friendly baseline is set, media queries progressively enhance the email further in clients that support it.
If you have some email design experience, this template optimizes every popular email client. All the extra Outlook code can make these templates quite large and your maths have to be spot on for multi-column layouts.
Templates in the
archived-versions folder are not currently being maintained and should be considered unsupported and deprecated. They are kept around for historical purposes. 💫
Cerberus is tested in the most popular email clients as reported by Litmus and my own email campaigns. I’ve focused on the following clients:
When I say “tested”, I mean “email doesn’t fall apart”. I don’t mean "Everything is pixel perfect in Outlook" or “I found a way to make media queries work everywhere.” They don’t.
Any client not listed above should be considered untested. If you feel I’ve left out a popular email client or can suggest a non-destabilizing fix for one, please submit an issue!
For what it’s worth, Litmus (who does test every email client) includes Cerberus in its Email Builder, so there’s that.
Not necessarily a bug with the code in this repo, but a few things that could trip you up.
I recommend against using a CSS inliners with Cerberus. Here’s why:
<head>is meant only for email clients that parse CSS in this location. It doesn’t need to be inlined.
:hoverthat don’t inline so well and throw errors in some CSS inliners.
I’m a fan of using snippets, available most code editors. I understand CSS inliners help many folks, but if you use one with Cerberus, please do so at your own risk. I recommend Lee Munroe’s CSS inliner and here good things about Roadie.
Please be mindful there are three templates that share a lot of code. Many changes apply to all three.
Things that directly helped (and continue to help) build Cerberus.