Meet Our Email Team: Rose King

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Joanna Wing

HTML code displaying Rose King Director IT & Development


Got a question about email? Chances are, WDGT Director of Development and IT Rose King knows the answer. She’s the one everyone goes to when they have a problem; she has great solutions, fantastic stories — and a stellar candy dish. Oh, and she’s pretty good at raising chickens, too.

Rose manages our development team and is in charge of Morpheus, our proprietary email application. On the client-facing side, she focuses on the technical stuff: ESPs, best practices, benchmarks, and implementation strategies. With years of email experience and an unbelievable amount of technical knowledge, she’s been coding longer than she’s had her driver’s license. Senior Copywriter Joanna Wing recently sat down with her to chat about all things email.

JOANNA: Hi Rose! Tell us about your background — how did you get started in coding?
ROSE:
I’m a product of the 1990s internet. Back then, websites were a relatively new thing. I was curious about how they were built, so I would grab the code from a website (back then, it was pretty easy), dissect it, and break it until I figured out how to put it back together.

J: How old were you when you did that?

R:
Oh my gosh, I was probably 10 or 12. I was self taught — and then I also pursued a college education in it. Wayback Machine has some of my first websites on it

J: What were they? Could you share them with us?
R
: Um, they were totally *NSYNC fan sites. That probably is a time that we should not revisit, haha.

J: How did you move from website development into email development?
R:
Our company offered me a job!

J: So before you worked here, you hadn’t worked in email?

R:
No — before I worked here, I was a web developer, pretty much straight out of college. I had been working for less than a year at a company where I managed their client web portal — basically a back-end system. I started at our agency as a front-end developer.

J: What's different about email development vs. website coding?

R:
With websites, you just build one version, and it works pretty much everywhere. When you build emails, they need to fit the capabilities of email service providers — companies like Salesforce, Acoustic, or Mailchimp, whose software is used to send email campaigns and manage subscribers. However, your emails also need to display properly across different email clients, like Outlook or Gmail. These email clients generally only support the basic fundamentals of code, similar to how websites were coded in the early 2000s.

J: Why is that?

R:
Email clients typically don’t have the same set of capabilities as today’s websites, often for security reasons. Apple allows more interactivity and functionality that is closer to a website, but they’re pretty much the only one. Most websites today use javascript, but that’s not allowed in email, because that would open up more opportunities for malicious activities like phishing or viruses.

J:
What do you enjoy most about building emails?
R:
When we’re asked to do new things in email, it’s exciting to me, because we get to push the limits on what our email clients can support. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle. And if I’m given a design that isn’t completely straightforward or template-based, I have to massage it to get it to do what I want — and hopefully do something that hasn’t been done before!

It can be a bit of a cat-and-mouse game with email clients, though. What new things does Gmail support now? Oh, does Outlook support animated GIFs? It makes you continuously push limits and explore different approaches to achieve what you want.

J: Any advice for developers who want to get into email?

R:
Haha, just unlearn what you’ve been taught!

If we brought in a new email developer, I would ask, do you know how to code? And they’d say yes. And then I’d ask, do you know how to code without a framework? If you know raw HTML and CSS, then you can build emails. A lot of front-end developers struggle with this, because it doesn’t make sense to them. Building emails is just a different knowledge set. It’s like creating a lot of old-school, static, one-off websites, all table-based and very grid-like.

So…learn how to build websites from the early 2000s. That’s my best advice.

J: Which project are you most proud of?

R:
Creating Morpheus — our WYSIWYG application for email. We developed this tool in-house and use it to build emails for the majority of our clients. It’s faster, easier, and saves time in production. It’s kind of like a CMS — a central location that holds all of our email information.

J: What email trends do you see for 2022?

R:
The big push for 2021 was accessibility. I’m going to assume that is going to continue through 2022. Accessibility is a huge component of emails right now.

Something else to watch out for: mail privacy protection. Apple’s recent update to mail privacy protection has shifted how we look at metrics for emails and how we judge success. If other email clients follow suit, it will reshape the landscape even more.

J: What are your other interests and hobbies?

R:
Fun fact: I went to school for Music Business and Audio Production before I went to school for Web and Media Design. I love music and I love to read. And I’m an introvert — surprise! I also like to craft. I love creating things.

J: And what about your animals…?

R:
I live in a zoo. I currently have five cats, two dogs, an African gray parrot, and four chickens. And a husband. And bees — lots of bees, because my husband is a beekeeper.

J: Do you see any parallels between your personal interests and your work?

R:
I love to create things. I like to figure out puzzles. Email gives me that outlet. It gives me the chance to be creative, put together the pieces, and find the best solution.

Have questions about your email strategy and design? Rose and the rest of our team are here to set you up for success. Give us a shout at hello@wdgt.mn and let’s build great emails together.