We're developing a paid, subscription-based application and are currently contemplating different sign up flows. How does one go about verifying the users email address elegantly?

Email addresses are needed for:

  • Payment reminders, receipts
  • Password resets
  • User ids
  • Other forms of communication

Current ideas:

  • Verification before sign up
    User enters an email address and receives an email with a link to the actual sign up and payment page (somewhat like an invitation)
  • Standard sign up with verification before payment screen Seems disruptive to the sign up flow
  • Standard sign up with verification after payment
    Dangerous if the user enters an incorrect email

Disclosure: Also posted on Quora

  • First, you should perhaps define your reasons for verifying email addresses. Is it for legal/regulatory compliance? Is it an essential (only) form of contact? Is it for security? Is it for marketing?
    – Brendon
    Jun 13, 2013 at 15:45
  • Some essentials include payment receipts, payment reminders, password resets.
    – fny
    Jun 13, 2013 at 16:33
  • I would definitely refrain from your third option of a standard sign up with verification after payment. It would be a major security issue if people entered the wrong email address. Jun 13, 2013 at 20:26

1 Answer 1



Verification before sign up: No!
Verification as an integrated part of the sign up flow: Yes.

Assuming it's 1st priority is to get users to sign up to grow the user base and being able to approach them. If yes, then I could think of the following flow:

  • have them sign up with the minimum amount of information necessary to sign them up, incl. email and password, but no payment information yet
  • show a confirmation message that they're almost there but need to click the link in the email you just sent to their email address
  • (make sure you repeat the email address in the confirmation message so that they can double check if they entered the correct one)
  • send them an email and ask them to click the link to verify their email address
  • the link should send them to the page being logged in and show a confirmation message that says that they successfully signed up
  • if you want, you could build the app in a way that they can't do anything without entering payment information to use the app (but you could also make a part of the content available for free, as a teaser)
  • make it crystal clear for users before the sign up that it's a paid service because otherwise they're potentially annoyed and hate the app as they signed up without actually being prepared to pay

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