An alternative to confirmation email links Posted on September 12th, 2012
Everybody has suffered through the tedious process of account registration and email confirmation. You want to join a cool new site your friend told you about. But before you can do anything you have to click a stupid link in what otherwise is the worlds most useless email. The entire process hinges on an email that's only value is a link that reads "Click me". Confirmation emails have one goal: make sure the recipient clicks the "verify your email address" link. These emails do not provide the recipient with any useful information about the site or places they should visit. This is by design - its imperative that the user clicks the verify your account link; but there's a better solution. For years sites have employed tracking pixels, a 1x1 pixel image, to record information, such as open rates, to the servers. This same technology could be used for email verification. The email would contain tracking pixel, but instead of tracking information the email would verify the recipients email address. Text-only email recipients would still require an authentication link. And it would not be a bad idea to include the old boring "Verify Account" link for email clients that don't load images by default. Either way, the verification email could be redesigned for user engagement rather than the singular goal of verify an email. Using the tracking pixel to handle email authentication will change the way new users are first introduced to the site. Where users were once greeted with a "verify account" link, they can now see trending articles, essential new features, or other essential site information.