Our takeaways from #LitmusLive 2019

Litmus Live (#LitmusLive) has always been an event with a feel-good vibe and a real family spirit for like-minded souls, whether your specialty happens to be with marketing, design or development.  Having been three years since I last attended, I was very much looking forward to catching up on the latest trends and developments and gaining an idea of how my own working methods and techniques align with the industry’s brightest and best. 

Litmus, who provide powerful tools for the email marketing world, themselves were very keen to show off new features of their popular platform, which are currently in the process of being rolled out. I was fortunate and delighted to be asked by them to participate in a product focus session to offer my own opinion on some of the UX (User Experience) details – and most excitingly I won a pair of coveted Litmus socks – Win-Win!

Now in its seventh year, the emphasis for a number of speaker topics was based much more on overarching ‘big picture’ concepts, rather than techy code-based tips and tricks. But at the same time, these ideas were very much focused on the personal, human element of our work, both for our own direct benefit and that of the audience of our day to day work in crafting email.

Kait Creamers (Scaled Agile) talk on Emotional Intelligence and discussed how ‘EQ’ is a far better predictor of performance and success in our lives and careers than IQ alone. She explained that while IQ remains fairly static once we reach adulthood, we are able to go on improving our emotional intelligence throughout our lives. Better self awareness, empathy and curiosity leads to a more positive outlook, better teamwork and adaptability to deal with change.

Mark Robbins (Salesforce) is something of a ‘rock star’ in email innovation, but this time he spoke about the idea of innovation itself – what it is, and some useful ways we can approach it, nurture it and develop personal habits that can allow it to flourish. I’ll admit that I was hoping for some piece of new technical wizardry to take away and try out on my next email campaign, but just thinking about the mindset behind problem solving in a fresh, creative way is very exciting. Building engaging emails continually challenges us to strive for and develop novel solutions which add real value.

Paul Airy (Beyond the Envelope) is a champion of accessibility in email and continues to explore important ideas and concepts to improve and refine emails that are then more meaningful to a wider range of users. Rather than leaving the width of the email to determine how the text flows,  by basing his design system on the optimum number of characters per line and then modifying the font size and container width to maintain this, he is able to create consistent paragraphs of copy across different devices.

This idea of accessibility has definitely been a key takeaway for me, in reinforcing the aspects we already incorporate into our work at 1973, together with a curiosity to take things further, and discover for instance, how screen reader software actually works, and how to help it interpret emails and web content correctly and usefully.

It doesn’t all end up having to be complicated and fiddly to implement either – a really simple behind-the-scenes improvement for emails and webpages just requires the use of ‘text-transform:uppercase;’ in the stylesheet to change the visual appearance. This allows the raw copy itself to remain in sentence case, as screen readers can end up spelling out letter by letter anything in caps, which obviously doesn’t make any sense for a headline or a quote pulled out in caps just for visual importance.

All in all a very enjoyable day – Litmus Live continues to inspire and inform (and indeed entertain!); I look forward to next year (I still want a cushion!) and, who knows, perhaps we may have something interesting ourselves to show off and talk about.

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