I've seen a lot of sites ask for email confirmation on the page, mostly by retyping the same email.

Does this reduce error rates or just infuriate users and what are the best ways to reduce errors for users when typing their email address (or contact number)?

  • 2
    Personal experience: whenever I type in my email address, I always make sure to check it. Whenever I have to type it twice, I just copy paste it from the first field. – Levano Sep 14 at 14:29
  • Often pasting is disabled in the 'confirmation input' to prevent duplicating error – but it does confirm the method doesn't really prevent error. – Eliot Hill Sep 14 at 15:07
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    it's a pattern that must die. There's an XKCD for it xkcd.com/970 – colmcq Sep 19 at 12:41

Well, YES, this will reduce chances of user making an error, but I would consider this as an outdated way to correct mistakes which has just became ineffective with time, as users have started being really lazy and ignorant.

Example: Rather than typing email again, users will just copy and paste the above one, or autofill will paste the same id in "confirm email" input box.

So now comes the infuriation part : - When user does all the email writing part wrong for the first time, he has to follow the complete process again, so you are writing your email/phone number at-least 3 times in this process and since all users aren't that nice, they might bounce away.

One popularly adapted alternative for this is asking for email id once. Then sending user confirmation link on the same, if user don't receive confirmation link/OTP within 20 sec, show them option to correct email/mobile number or resending the mail/OTP.

Benefit in the later option is that user just have to wait for few secs, or can just leave the screen for hours and whenever he comes back, open mail and there he finds the link to confirm signup and continue.

This provides user more control on signup, proper validation and no more entering redundant text.

Hope this helps.

Thanks.

  • Completely agree, immediate validation through sending is an effective way of reducing error or additional user input. However it does involve leaving the screen to a new application (potentially other device) clicking a link or copying a code before returning to the original form … in terms of 'completion rates' it often reduces this. – Eliot Hill Sep 14 at 15:05
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    Accepting the completion rates fact of yours, If you don't want user to drop off the screen, then you can take 2 sets of primary keys in the form, like email and username where username and email both remain unique for everyone, in that case, you can login the user straight away in the system using his unique username, with an option to verify his email later on. I guess zeplin webapp does it like that. – Anupam Pareek Sep 14 at 23:26

While I haven't personally done any user testing on this specific aspect, I can recall specific instances where i have been infuriated by the repetition and instances where i was glad i had to retype my email address. Maybe these use cases will provide a better understanding of when to ask for a retype of email address:

I got Infuriated:

I remember the sign-up form for the Amazon mobile app needed an email retype. This was when the app was first released and i am unsure if they have removed this or not. But i remember thinking that it made no sense for me to retype my email address. It was trivial information and i had wasted the 5 seconds it took to type my relatively small email address.

Why i didnt find it helpful: While the email address was pivotal as a data set, any wrong information could have been easily solved with negative feedback. Also, the registration was a 2 step process and so I could easily have been allowed to review my inputs at the next stage.

I found it helpful:

When i was filling out an online form for my bank account, one of the fields was my email address. All information including my bank statements and transaction information was sent to this email address. Here they required me to retype and reconfirm my email address.

Why i found this helpful: My email address was linked to so many important functions that alleviate my online banking experience. If i had made an error in entering my email address, i would be sending sensitive information to someone else which is not what i wanted.

Takeaways:

Please remember that good User Experience is subjective and hinges on the context of the situation. If the input being filled NEEDS to be correct and you don't want to have any room for errors, then yes, a reconfirmation is not a bad idea. But if it can be solved in another way (like I had mentioned with the Amazon application), then, by all means, use the tools at your disposal to make a better user experience for your users.

Hope this helps ^_^

  • Good point: some services matter, more than others. – PhillipW Sep 21 at 6:15

Since it is mostly to the user's advantage to type in the email-adress correctly, I see no use in letting him fill this particular field twice.

A useful approach is to check for the format of the email adress to make sure it consists of exactly one @ and at least one dot.

  • 2
    not really a source, but came directly to my mind: xkcd.com/970 – Chaoskatze Sep 14 at 13:40
  • "mostly to the user's advantage" depends heavily on the type of site. For someone trying to gather leads on a sales site or blog, getting that email address correct may be the most important goal the page was designed for. On the other hand, for a person reading a blog post, the 'advantage' to getting their email address correct is dubious. – Skeptycal Oct 10 at 4:49
  • @Skeptycal True. I focused on a certain type of sites or so it seems. – Chaoskatze Oct 25 at 13:33

If the goal is to improve the quality of valid accounts created, I'd do the following:

  • Verification emails

    • If you feel user will be put off / bounce off with this step, you can move the verification process to the end of the process, wherein they will be more willing to comply because they don't want to lose their invested time / effort in completing the previous steps.
    • You can gamify this step by showing a countdown timer or a nice gif that's running out for 20 sec or so.
  • Highlight obvious typing errors (missing @ or .)

  • Explain nicely users why you're asking for the email twice. (20% of the users couldn't start using our service because they typed their email address wrong. We request you to double check the email so that we can get you started quickly.)
  • Highlight (in red) as soon as the second email text starts differing from the first email text.
  • Use a tool like Inspectlet to see how users really interact with the double email textbox and how mistakes happen. This will help uncover the real reasons for errors.

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