I’m designing e-commerce registration process, and I’m in two minds about asking user for account activation via e-mail. I consider these solutions:

  1. User needs to activate account via e-mail or he won’t be able to create account. This is standard procedure, established pattern but it also creates a lot of friction cause user in registration process needs to switch to the e-mail client, clicks activation button in link (sometimes waiting till e-mail will come) goes to the login page and log in.

  2. User needs to verify e-mail address in 24 hours, he has full access to account, but if he won’t verify email in 24h the account will be deleted. This solution is the worst in my opinion cause people forget to verify e-mails and after 24 hours they’re shocked their account was deleted.

  3. If user delivers e-mail address and password he doesn’t need to do anything with account, only confirmation email is sent to him. This solution creates less friction than the first one, but I wondering if this solution makes some flaws in the security issues.

  • Could you elaborate on what your users are registring for exactly? Personally, I find it really annoying to have to go through a registration process at all if all I want to do is buy something. You don't need to register at your grocery shop either right? You just pay, get your stuff, and walk out.
    – André
    Sep 23, 2013 at 13:12
  • I've been designing e-commerce website, people could buy physical products e.g. tv set or e-books, mp3 files. My client wants to force all users how buy e-books, mp3 to register. He's afraid that users who don't register and buy digital stuff after some time would lost the links for downloaded digital files, erase previous downloaded files, and then company will have a problem with users who demand their items but there is no one place for store them all - their account. Sep 23, 2013 at 19:28
  • Ok, sure enough, for such virtual products I can image you'd want to store them in an account. But I'd make it as low a barrier as you possibly can, so I say only require the registration if the user is buying virtual goods, otherwise make it optional and offer it after the sale has been made. And use option 3.
    – André
    Sep 24, 2013 at 6:45
  • Yes I agree, but there is a problem, when user has in shopping cart physical and digital products. I could make two separate ways to buy e.g. tabs for digital and physical products in shopping cart but during user tests I've seen that users have no idea what these two tabs are. Sep 24, 2013 at 9:13

2 Answers 2


Would you ask a customer its ID when entering a shoe-shop ?

Let the user wander in your platform as long as she wants after a very simple login. Once she wants to buy something, make her activate her email address for invoicing purposes. Give some sense to the process and do not acknowledge some pattern is valid only because others use it.

Of course she has to be able to log in without buying anything, of course if someone is using a fake email for any reason she has to be able to change it, of course the rightful owner has to be able to activate her email when used by another person.


It might depend on the kind of service you are offering. If your service is, for example, a social network in which email is important because of all the notifications happening through email, then an account activation per email might look right.

If you are just selling products, then a confirmation email might not be necessary at all. The product I design for processes hundreds of thousands of orders, we require an email address during the buying process because our product is delivered through this medium (tickets for events delivered as PDF). Yes, sometimes people enter a wrong email address and they have to contact support to get their product.

But even considering that for us emails are very important, we prefer to make the life of the vast majority of our users easier and keep the conversion rate high. The others can contact support.

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