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Email validation a new way

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

There were a few areas of the new website that I was kind of excited about showcasing as I thought they were a little different or possibly even something brand new. One of these things is the contact form.

The form itself is pretty standard, really there’s not much you can do to make a form exciting, and with three text boxes and a textarea there isn’t much complexity to try and improve the user experience. In the background the validation of the form is also fairly standard except for one small feature; the email validation.

One thing website validation cannot do is get into the head of a user and ensure exactly what they typed was what they originally intended. The code instead checks for the correct format of information, until now. With the help of the same technology that adds Gravatar’s to blog comments an email address entered into the contact form shows a person’s Gravatar, given they have one. This allows a visual image by which a user can quickly judge whether or not the email address they have entered is correct. If the Gravatar stays the same or changes to an unrecognised image then they can check again that the email they entered is correct before submitting the form.

Of course there are a number of users that do not use Gravatars and for them the feature doesn’t reduce the user experience as the contact form can still be used in the same way as if the extra validation was not there. But for those that do use Gravatar it gives that little extra level of validation.