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  1. Service manual
  2. Design
  3. Email addresses

This guide explains how to ask users for their email address.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

To pass point 13 (make the user experience consistent with GOV.UK) in your service assessments you must use GOV.UK design patterns and guidance.

Read the guide on using, adapting and creating patterns before you start designing or building anything.

Example

emailaddress.png

When asking users for their email address, you should:

  • make the field long enough
  • make it clear why you’re asking
  • help users to enter a valid email address

You may also need to check that users have access to the email account they give you.

Make the field long enough

Email addresses can be as long as 256 characters, so make sure users can type this many characters into the field.

The field itself should be wide enough for most users to see their address as they type it. Analyse your data to see how wide you’ll need to make the field - but 30 characters is a good rule of thumb.

Tell users why you want the email address

Make it clear what the email address will be used for so that:

  • users feel confident that you’re not going to abuse it
  • users with multiple email addresses can choose which one to give you

Help users to enter a valid email address

Help your users to enter a valid email address by:

  • checking that what they’ve entered is in the format of an email address
  • allowing users to paste the email address
  • using the type=“email” attribute so that devices display the correct keyboard
  • play their address back to them so they can check and change it

You can also check for common misspellings of popular email providers (for example ‘homtail.com’ instead of ‘hotmail.com’). Warn users if you detect one, but allow them to proceed in case it’s a genuine email address.

Some services ask users to repeat their email address. This adds work for the user and should not be implemented unless your research has shown it to be effective.

Checking the user has access to their email account

You can use an email confirmation loop to confirm that the user has access to the email address they gave you.

They can be a very disruptive user experience, so you should try not to use them.

Discuss email addresses

Discuss asking for email addresses on the design patterns wiki.

You may also find these guides useful:

Published by:
Design community
Last update:

Clarified that email fields should accept all email addresses, however long. And that the field should be wide enough for most users to see their address as they type.

  1. Added guidance on warning users if you detect common misspellings of email providers.

  2. Guidance first published