I would advise you to check out our Modern HTML Email coding tutorials. http://blog.edmdesigner.com/tag/modern-html-email-tutorial/ (start with the oldest one).
It's a series of step-by-step tutorial articles which help even newbies to become email coders.
I'm not a developer myself, but could easily follow and understand how an email template should be coded. I think if you follow along, you'll get a great understanding of basic principles.
Here's the article I came up with. It includes a quote from you. ;) thanks for your help.
I have just published an article - http://blog.chamaileon.io/limitations-of-html-email-design-email-width-and-size/ - about email width and size. Your thoughts are included. Would love to hear your verdict :)
This GIF is great as well! Thanks. Actually the download speeds shown in Google Chrome differ from the resource I found.
I'm still trying to figure out what is a good "average" speed for various network connections. Obviously it will differ by region so it's something we can hardly generalize.
Thanks Mark, this is really useful! If you don't mind I'll include your tips in an article about the limitations of email design and refer to you! Although this might sound a bit complicated for simple email marketers, who are not the hacker kind :)