Many websites that support user accounts require users to enter an email address as part of the registration process. This email address is then used as the primary communication channel with the user. For instance, if the user forgets her password a new one can be generated and emailed to the address on file. But what if, when registering, a user enters an incorrect email address? Perhaps the user meant to enter [email protected], but accidentally transposed the first two letters, entering [email protected] How can such typos be prevented?
The only foolproof way to ensure that the user’s entered email address is valid is to send them a validation email upon registering that includes a link that, when visited, activates their account. (This technique is discussed in detail in Examining ASP.NET’s Membership, Roles, and Profile – Part 11.) The downside to using a validation email is that it adds one more step to the registration process, which will cause some people to bail out on the registration process. A simpler approach to lessening email entry errors is to have the user enter their email address twice, just like how most registration forms prompt users to enter their password twice. In fact, you may have seen registration pages that do just this. However, when I encounter such a registration page I usually avoid entering the email address twice, but instead enter it once and then copy and paste it from the first textbox into the second. This behavior circumvents the purpose of the two textboxes–any typo entered into the first textbox will be copied into the second.