I have been doing a lot of email HTML Newsletters lately.
1. Emails are complicated.
2. TL;DR: Mainly for security reasons, email clients preprocess emails in a way that does not support a lot of the same code you would use when building a website. So most of the nice, progressive, interactive stuff is stripped away, hence we are stuck making newsletters the way we built websites 10 years ago.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, email should never be bloated. But sometimes we want to try a different layout, something that doesn’t look like a spreadsheet, push things a little.
So what do we do? Same thing we did back then: We fake it.
No full support for background images? Slice one up into 8 and put them back together (jigsaw puzzles FTW!).
No padding support? Use a transparent image and change it in size.
I enjoy making these newsletters because the limitations keep reminding me of the most important thing about my profession: Make it. Make it. Just Make it.
Can’t figure out how something was built? Fake it. Reverse engineer it, Run over to Stack Overflow and copy paste it. JUST MAKE IT. Understand how something works, then you can make it leaner, more accessible. It might be you who ends up improving the code for everyone else, but for that you need to make it. Make it until you can’t fake it.