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Imagine the registration process where you send an activation email to the user. In many activation email I receive, I will get an activation hyperlink and an activation code by itself as well.

My question is whether or not there are any benefits to having a separate activation page where the user can go to enter the activation code manually instead of using a hyperlink in the email?

My preferred method would sending an activation link, and once it's opened in the browser getting redirected to the login page to complete the activation by logging in. Is there a reason to make this process more complicated, with a separate activation page?

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Some users may be reading e-mail on a device which does not include a web browser or in a context where an activation code is easier to use - i.e. SMS users who make use of their providers' e-mail gateways or mutt users (okay, there's no help for mutt users - they probably don't need it anyways). –  danlefree Dec 5 '11 at 22:23
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The reason many registration emails include a code as well as a link is that some email applications break hyperlinks. The alternative method is what a user can do if the hyperlink method fails. AOL's email client was one of the most popular to fail in this manner, but it is hardly the only offender.

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So this would be the case when the person knowingly registered for the website? I am thinking that when I register for a site, I expect the activation email right away and I trust the link in it. –  Nikita Dec 6 '11 at 13:45
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Many people simply do not trust links in emails, thanks to the huge quantities of spam and phishing emails they receive. They would rather go to the website, find the activation page, and then type in the activation code.

To provide the activation code separately is a cheap additional way to increase conversion for those who are prepared to take the longer way round.

Yes, there's some irony there! But from the user perspective, there are different barriers to overcome, some of which can be lowered by good ux - and that includes providing flexibility for those with different concerns.

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