UX Crash Course: Stupid Question 17 of 30

There are a million places on the internet where you can type in your email address to register. Different people have different opinions about what should happen next. So today we will answer:

“Is an email confirmation bad UX?”


Just starting the Crash Course? Start here!


If you have ever subscribed to a newsletter, or joined a social network, or signed up for invites to a new product before it launches, you might have received an email confirmation. 

It’s an email, asking you to click a button or a link to prove that you typed your email correctly and you are a real person. 

Is that bad UX?


The stupid answer:

“If the user would rather not do it, it’s bad UX.”

(Pffft! If that were true, half of the internet wouldn’t exist because there would be no forms.)


The real answer: 

First of all, email confirmations have a high success rate compared to any other type of email. So as far as notifications go, email confirmations are some of the most effective content you will ever send.

If you believe that sending any email is a bad experience, then you have to choose what you will lose to avoid sending one.


Why this isn’t a stupid question:
Sometimes inconvenient experiences solve bigger problems.

From time to time in UX, the best solution is actually something the user would rather not do.

That annoying email confirmation allows you and the website to know that your email address was typed properly.

It gives the company a way to help you remember your password when you forget it.

It ensures that random idiots can’t sign you up for daily porn newsletters, because they won’t be able to confirm the registration.

And it makes sure that all the users that register are real people. It is much harder for robots to abuse a site if they also have to confirm real emails from real email addresses.

i.e. — it’s a security thing.

Every checkout process is kind of tedious, but without that information you can’t receive your purchase in the mail. And it often makes future purchases faster and easier.

i.e. — it’s a logistics thing.

Captchas might induce homicidal rage, but they prevent the machines from taking over and killing us all. I guess.

Sometimes the solution is to make something harder.

That’s called Anti-UX


Anti-UX is a good thing. And it is good UX design. 

Remember that UX is not about making users happy. It’s about making users effective.

So a little bad experience that prevents a really terrible experience on a larger scale is design for the greater good.

And if you only try to make users happy, you will eventually design something that makes a lot of lives worse, just to avoid a little bit of annoyance, once.


Tomorrow we will get into the first stupid question about visual design: “What is the best font size?”