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Having an input field to confirm an email address is pretty standard. However, I would like to know if using a confirm email address field still considered a best practice.

The Email/Confirm email input controls account for a majority of the form abandonment for a client of mine. There are a variety of different reasons for it but i'm offering the following suggestions.

  • Remove the confirm email address. My rationale is that no one actually double types so if they've copied an pasted from the email input control they'll both match but you can't guarantee either is right.
  • Keep both boxes but provide immediate feedback to users with a javascript enabled browsers (ARIA - will be introduce in the next phase, so accessibility will fall back to server side validation) if the email addresses match/don't match.

Personally i'd like them to remove it. I think they are pointless and the form is very long as it is but i need evidence not just my opinion.

Any thoughts?

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I'd be very interested in knowing what - Did you remove the extra field? Did it affect the form abandonment? After all, the only way to determine of the problem was successfully solved is to test... –  Anonymous Dec 24 '10 at 15:45
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Obligatory xkcd reference! –  Pasha S Jun 8 '13 at 23:49

8 Answers 8

Here's a hypothetical to consider. Let's say your signup page gets 500,000 visitors and a 20% conversion for 100,000 signups a year.

Without an email confirmation field, reasonable estimates say 0.4% (or 400) of these users enter the wrong email address. With email confirmation, a generous estimate says that drops to 0.1%. So the net loss from removing the confirmation field is 0.3% (300 users).

You only have to improve your conversion rate to 20.06% to break even on that loss.

Now if we say email confirmation constitutes one of five required fields on the average signup form, removing that field means reducing the user's work by 20%, and it's hard to imagine that would improve conversions by less than 0.06%.

There is also the opportunity that users who enter the wrong email address will realize it later and correct it, or simply create a new account.

With these things in mind, I would favor forms without email confirmation.

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Once is enough. Actually email-add for some is quite irrelevant for any confirmation. Specially on confirmation mail. Tons of disposable email adds are available on the web.

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i'll add some technical stuff:

  • name the field "email" -> browsers recognize the field and provide you with your email addresses you complete in those fields

  • put the type of the field "email". some devices (like iphone) use a different keyboard when dealing with this type of inputs, i read a very good article on this but i can't find it.

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Is this the article that you are referring to? diveintohtml5.org/forms.html –  Charles Boyung Feb 2 '10 at 15:42
    
exactly, thank you. –  Adrian Feb 4 '10 at 15:25
    
Excellent advice - not sure why this wasn't upvoted - until now :) The 'type="email"' is actually from HTML5; obviously some vendors are already recognising it. –  Bobby Jack Feb 9 '10 at 17:58
    
Indeed, mobile Safari (i.e. iPhone/iPad) supports field type specific keyboard layouts and provides other UI data entry UX goodness. Not sure if other WebKit-based mobile browsers do too yet (e.g. Android default browser) but they will in the future... –  MarcusT Aug 31 '10 at 16:34

I've seen this question brought up in a number of places. After a lot of comments and iterations at one such forum (can't remember where), the best practice i found was:

. Ask the user to enter their email address . At the end of the form show the email address again with a message saying: Email confirmation will be sent to: xyz@abcd.com (change)

This gives the user an option to change the email address if the one entered isn't right. Asking users to enter the same information twice is not quite helpful and more often than not, users like me just copy and paste the email address from the first box.

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Is this the article you mentioned? Solving the repeat email address issue - tinyurl.com/mlekdl –  Matt Goddard Feb 25 '10 at 12:05
    
Sushant, that is precisely the type of thing we prototyped in the link above. Any preference between them? –  Yoni Feb 25 '10 at 21:21

Suggestion in a related vein (once is enough for e-mail address entry, agreed) - find a way to float an enlarged version of the text entry field when an onFocus() occurs so the user can easily see the contents of the box while typing and identify errors which would be slightly less obvious at 12 points.

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interesting idea.. though i suppose i could just use larger input controls and font... Form might balloon though. –  Matt Goddard Jan 15 '10 at 16:13

I’d recommend not including a ‘confirm email’. I agree that many people copy and paste rather than re-typing the email address from the original ‘email address’ field (defeating the purpose of the confirmation field).

Some related research/findings/best-practices:

1) Smashing Magazine’s article'Web Form Validation: Best Practices and Tutorials' reference a survey they conducted on Web form design [and] according to that survey:

  • email confirmation was mandatory in only 18% of sites […] large websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon and Twitter don’t require password confirmation.
  • ‘designers tend to remove all unnecessary details and distractions which don’t help the user to complete the form’. More detailed analysis showed a trend of using very few mandatory fields – more than 50% of forms used at most 5 mandatory fields, while optional fields were often avoided. This can be useful to you when deciding on required fields.

2) Luke Wroblewski’s ‘Inline Validation in Web Forms is also a great resource for findings and best practice recommendations re web forms design

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Thanks Nathalie - Exactly what i was after. –  Matt Goddard Jan 15 '10 at 16:14

I'd also vote for asking it only once.

If your really need to, you can confirm the email in other ways as well, ie: alt text

See a good article on exploring email inputs from Luke Wroblewski (also the source of the image above)

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In my opinion, the "confirm email address" field is just another barrier of entry for your registration.

My theory on this and from personal experience: People type their email all the time, if there's a mistake in what they just typed, they notice it rapidly.

Here's an interesting registration flow to think about:

  1. User registers
  2. User is automatically logged in after registration and the confirmation email is sent simultaneously
  3. You add a site-wide notification to tell the user to check his inbox for the confirmation email and if he didn't receive it, he may have mistyped it. Perhaps also explain how important this information is for your site.

Here's a decent discussion on IxDA: Asking twice for email address in a form

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I agree with what you've written but is there any evidence to suggest it's not just our (Experienced web users) preference? –  Matt Goddard Jan 14 '10 at 14:58
    
Not sure there's a way to know. You can only really have other systems in place to make sure there's no mistake there... like a different registration/email confirmation flow. –  Jérôme Gravel-Niquet Jan 14 '10 at 15:28

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