When Microsoft first rolled out Outlook 2007, HTML email designers raised concerns about the changes made by Microsoft to the way HTML emails would be displayed in the latest version of its popular email application. At a technical level, previous versions of Outlook used Internet Explorer as the engine for rendering HTML content. This meant that if your HTML looked good in Internet Explorer, it would look good in Outlook. Then, for Outlook 2007, Microsoft began using Microsoft Word to render the HTML.
With the passage of time, it now appears the alarm was unwarranted. The good news is that the changes to Outlook 2007 did not affect most of the core design techniques (such as tables) used to create HTML emails. However, law firm email marketers need to be aware that the following commonly used HTML tags and techniques are no longer supported in Outlook 2007, and redesign accordingly:
Probably the most significant of these changes is the disabling of forms embedded in emails. For example, for law firms distributing email invitations, this means you can't collect RSVP's via embedded forms from invitees using Outlook 2007, and instead need to direct such invitees via a link to an RSVP form hosted on your website. If you are unable to generate hosted online RSVP forms on your own, eLawMarketing has developed a contact management tool that allows you to do just that.
As far as animation, the solution is to link to pages on your firm's website where the animation can be hosted and viewed.
Of course, email marketers should continue to populate "ALT" tags for all images used in HTML emails so that any Outlook 2007 recipients with "image blocking" turned on will understand the nature and purpose of each of the images in the email (image blocking was carried over from Outlook 2003). For the same reason, it's also a good idea to include text link versions of any "calls to action" in the email such as "Register Here" or "Read More."
For the more technically minded, further details on supported and unsupported HTML attributes, properties, etc. in Outlook 2007, can be viewed on Microsoft's website.
At the end of the day, the best policy in HTML email design is simplicty. That is, design with the lowest common denominator in mind so your emails will display cleanly to the largest number of subscribers.