The updates to Outlook.com are now rolled out to all accounts. Marketers can now take full advantage of media query support and support for roles and ARIA attributes.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on Microsoft Outlook over the last few years, you’ll have noticed that the Outlook team has been making some great improvements.
Along with improvements like adding media query support to mobile Outlook apps, the team has tackled issues like adding SVG support and fixing the Times New Roman font fallback issue. And, while not Outlook-specific, Microsoft has even added animated GIF support for Windows 10 Mail.
With all of the work going into Outlook, email marketers are left with one question: What’s next? A few intrepid email geeks recently got a sneak peek as the Outlook team started testing new updates in Outlook.com. The features below are still being tested by the Outlook team and aren’t available to all users, but should be rolling out to everyone in the next few months.
Here’s what you can look forward to from Microsoft.
Media Query Support
Rémi Parmentier noticed that Outlook.com will be supporting CSS media queries.
It looks like https://t.co/ynP86JodiI is starting to support media queries. Not 100% consistent, so it must be some kind of A/B testing. But hey, hurray! https://t.co/ynP86JodiI was the last major western webmail to not support media queries. #emailgeeks pic.twitter.com/HHEkXg03Zh
— HTeuMeuLeu (@HTeuMeuLeu) November 26, 2018
Media queries allow designers and developers to target specific attributes of an email client or web browser and adjust the styles of their email as needed. It’s a powerful tool, and the foundation of responsive email. With Outlook.com’s upcoming support of media queries, email marketers now have another tool to optimize their campaigns for subscribers—regardless of what device they’re using to check their Outlook.com inbox.
We’ve written before about how accessibility should be a key focus for email marketers. Two tools available for email marketers to create more accessible emails are roles and ARIA attributes, both of which provide additional context for content in emails to users that need it. Previously, Outlook.com was stripping both from HTML but, as Mark Robbins noted on Twitter, the pending update remedies that situation.
Good new #emailgeeks and #a11y fans. @Outlook webmail is no longer removing role and aria attributes. There are still a number of other issues that need fixing but this is a big step forward.
— Mark Robbins (@M_J_Robbins) November 27, 2018
Now, marketers can (and should) include ARIA attributes and roles to better describe the content in their emails for disabled users and those using assistive technology like screen readers. In fact, one of the best ways to make your emails more accessible is by including the role attribute set to presentation on every table tag in your campaign. Doing so takes the tables out of the accessibility tree so that screen readers skip right to the content within those tables, instead of reading out every table row, column, and cell individually.
Outlook’s Bright Future
As with any email client, there are always improvements to be made. But the Outlook team has made it clear that they’re committed to evolving the platform not only for users, but for email marketers as well.
We’re always looking for ways to improve Outlook for both our users and the email development community. This recent set of changes is directly informed by what we heard from the community, and we’ll keep listening.
-Rebecca Lawler, Outlook Consumer Program Manager
Along with the partnership between Microsoft and Litmus, the Outlook team has been interacting with email marketers online and off. Outlook Consumer Program Manager Rebecca Lawler even attended the San Francisco leg of Litmus Live earlier this month.
We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with Microsoft and can’t wait to see what’s coming for Outlook in 2019 and beyond.
Start Testing in Outlook.com
See how your emails render in Outlook.com and keep an eye on Microsoft’s latest updates when they roll out in the next few months. Start a free trial of Litmus today and never send another broken email.