Minesweeper Interactive Email: Interview with Camille and miah from table tr td

Camille Palu and miah roberts (miah likes his name spelled with lowercase) and their website table tr td have been getting a lot of buzz lately among the email design community with their interactive email creations. You can view their creations here.

One of the emails that caught our attention is an email that featured a fully functioning Minesweeper game within the email (view it here). For those of you who are not familiar with Minesweeper, it was an early PC game that came bundled with the Windows operating system where the goal is to clear up squares without triggering a “mine”.

Having seen many interactive email implementations, I was impressed with the execution of this one (the email featured more than 64 interactive elements and 40 checkboxes – checkboxes are used to trigger the interactive states). I reached out to the creators of the email for an interview to get their thoughts on the subject.

Give our readers a little background about yourselves.

We are email developers that live and work in Denver, CO. We have worked together for four years at two companies (Merkle Inc. and Digital Fusion). We run our passion project (table tr td), and own a business (camiah). We like to build email, design stickers, buttons, and t-shirts, and find the “best way” to do just about everything. We like coming up with brand new ideas and executing them. We love being creative, and we both love our little families. We are perfectionists that painstakingly care about every aspect of what we do.

What was your inspiration in starting the table tr td website?

We originally started table tr td as a code library. We, ourselves, use it daily so that we work from a shared code base. As a project, and as a way to express ourselves, we started sending email art. For the website, we keep it updated with the code we use. We consistently look at every post and ensure it still applies. For the emails, we send what we think will be either funny, fun, or relevant. Table tr td is 100% a passion project for us, and we try to make sure everything is the best it can be.

How did you come up with the idea for the Minesweeper email?

We are always racking our brains for ideas to get our followers to smile. We like to include interactive gems that no one in their right mind would spend time creating. So when the idea for minesweeper hit, development started immediately.

How long did it take you to build it?

Wow, this is quite a question. The development time was between 20-25 hours. 3-4 late (eye-bleeding) nights in a row. After it was ready we decided to ensure it fell back very thoughtfully in each email client so it would look intentional.

What advice do you have for email designers who are interested in trying out interactive email?

First of all, get out there and experiment, do something fun and creative for yourself. If it is for a client, find a really good and meaningful use case. Do not waste time and money developing something just because. Once you have your use, do a quick study up. We have a post on table tr td showing the basics behind it and the code needed. It’s a little funky to get used to, but it is so much fun. Especially when you’re doing it right. Another thing you’ll have to get ready for is all the fallbacks needed. It’s not going to work everywhere, so the email will need to have depth.

Do you feel that the time for interactive email has arrived?

Well, interactive email is definitely popular at the moment. And it can be used really well. But it can also burn a ton of dev time since it’s not easy. What we really think interactive email can do is bring excitement to the field, and get people, who are not normally excited about email, opening and clicking around.

You send really cool and whimsical emails that make use of cutting edge techniques. Is there one that you’re particularly proud of, besides the minesweeper one?

There is a place in our hearts for every email we send. We really enjoy the Pizza, Pin Code, and BlackBerry emails. We send each one on purpose to people who want to receive them. We get excited thinking of how happy our followers will be to open our creations. And we hope they can see the care we have in what we do.

Do you think that interactive email must serve a function? Or can fun interactivity be the point of the email?

We have a unique point of view. We send almost exclusively to get people to think, not to have them take an action. But even though our interactivity is the point of the email, it still has a function. A function to create thought, movement, a smile, a laugh, a share, a positive reputation, or to build trust with our followers.

Is there any interactive email that you’ve come across that you really liked?

We love what our buddy Eric Lepetit and his team at Nest do. Everything Mark Robbins has to offer is magical as well. [Editor’s note: check out Mark’s interactive email games].

What are your predictions for email in the next two to three years?

We are really excited about the next few years in email. The community has been syncing up and collaborating more than ever and we are becoming a more confident group. It’s also really fun to have well known email devs out there to look up to and really geek out about.

Do you love email?

So do we! That’s why we find work like what table tr td does so exciting. We love innovative emails, but coding them can be challenging. That’s where Email on Acid comes into play! We can help you test your emails to make sure they’re perfect. Get over 70 previews in just one minute by testing with Email on Acid.

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