I have a site that requires email validation as well as sms (cellphone number) validation. At the moment my registrations Vs non registrations are 10 to 1 (towards non registrations). This is almost certainly down to the registration process as an online survey proves this. The current procedure is ...

  1. User registers their email
  2. User gets code in email to confirm email
  3. user then can login into website
  4. Once logged in they can enter a cellphone number and get a code sent to them
  5. code gets sent to users cellphone and they input it.
  6. code gets verified

The tech savvy don't seem to have a problem with this, the non-tech savvy seem to get as far as email verification and don't go any further. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to handle SMS and email validation, particularly on mobile?

  • 3
    Is there a serious reason to require SMS validation? Aside my bank website, I would never give my phone number to any other during registration, which is probably the case of most people. Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 13:02
  • 2
    The issue here is that you compounding the barrier to entry and you're asking a lot of the user without perhaps giving them anything first in order to feel that the 'goodwill' has been built up enough for them to want to complete the registration. If possible I would defer the second validation until you have built up this relationship with the user and have earned that goodwill. Do you make it clear to people up front that validation is a two stage process so that they know what to expect? If not, you should, so that there's no surprises after the first hurdle. Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 14:20
  • It is entirely optional to register. The site is an online menu so people are ordering food and as a safety measure to avoid malicious orders SMS verification is an option. If they chose not to do this every order prints out saying they have not been sms validated at the retailers. Registered users also gain reward points and can view the process of their order live.
    – maxum
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 3:36

2 Answers 2


I think you're making the process overly complicated, even allowing for the dual forms of validation.

You could simplify it to this:

  1. User creates an account, entering both email address and mobile number.
    The page explains clearly the need for both email and mobile contact details.
  2. Site sends confirmation email and sms messages
    The page advises the user to check their email for a confirmation link and reminds them of the code sent to their mobile.
  3. User clicks link in email message to reach a confirmation page, and enters code from mobile message
  4. Site verifies the SMS code number matches the email address

The key here is that the number of steps required of the user is reduced - you're not requiring them to confirm their email THEN go through a whole separate process for their mobiles.

Or ... an alternative approach ...

First, Get users to register using an email address and go through the normal verification process at that point. Mention that confirmation of your mobile number is recommended, but don't enforce it at registration.

Then, provide an easy way to confirm a mobile number at any time. Some users will do this immediately.

Lastly, when a user places an order, offer to send them confirmation SMS messages telling them when their order is ready, what the charge is, and so on. Users with confirmed mobiles can just opt-in (or out) of this; other users go through a quick "We sent a test message to you to make sure everything is working - please enter the code number here:" to validate their number.


It sounds like you're trying to do something kind of like Google's 2-step verification, but you're requiring it for all users.

I think Google made it optional for a good reason. I use it, and it surely helps drastically with securing your account. But it is a bit of a hassle and unlike email confirmations, this is a new and unfamiliar process for most people. And it doesn't surprise me that many of your users are not completing their registrations.

So I would strongly consider making the SMS-verification portion of the registration an optional thing after they're registered.

And then for the email verification portion, check out my response to this question which demonstrates how big of an impact your wording can make.

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