I decided to write this post after spending several hours trying to change the login email address I use on over 50 websites and services to use a different address.
I am planning to stop using an old Google @gmail.com email address as it was only being used as a login username on different websites I use and I wanted to change this to use different email addresses based on domain names I own to try to reduce the levels of incoming spam when services are compromised or hacked.
Based on updating the 50+ websites, most websites give the users the following ways / options to be able to change or update their email address listed below in the ease of use from very easy and quick to change to not able to complete the changes.
Simple Account Page
Account page with simple form entry field which changes the email address on saving.
This is the most simple but if the user enters the new email address incorrectly, they will not be able to login again with the new correct email address.
Verification by link or number to the old email address
Account page with simple form entry field which saves the new email address subject to clicking on a link or entering a confirmation number via an email verification message sent to your old email address to confirm the change.
Verification by link or number to the new email address
Account page with simple form entry field which saves the new email address subject to clicking on a link or entering a confirmation number via an email verification message sent to your new email address to confirm the change.
Verification by text message
Entering a code sent via SMS to mobile phone to confirm the changes with the new email address.
Verification by 2FA app on mobile device
Entering a code on the website via a 2FA app on mobile phone to confirm the changes with the new email address.
Multi Step Process
Website with a customer account section but requires several steps within the customer account section to change the email address.
Need to contact website owner
I found two websites out of the 50+ I updated which require the user to contact customer support to change your email address. These where www.millets.co.uk and the photo sharing site Flickr who have a support page saying that you cannot change your email address unless you contact their support team for assistance. See screenshot below.
Not able to change email address
I only found one website which does not allow you to change your email account which is a game I used to play called War Thunder . Their website will only allow you to add additional email addresses if you give them your mobile telephone number and as I don’t want more mobile spam, I didn’t do this. They have a support page which states that "We do not provide e-mail change service" so it appears that this account will just sit on their servers until they close as I cant change it to my new email address!
Which way is best?
Based on my own experience over the past 21 years of building and using websites and current usability studies, I think the best way for a website to allow a registered use to update their email address is the method with the contact form with email verification or Two-factor authentication (2FA) to verify the new address before the changes are committed to the user account which allows the user to fall back to the old address if they enter it incorrectly and the verification message failing to be delivered.
Update 13th November 2019
After sending an email to Flickr customer support they updated my email address without any additional verification.
Millets replied today with the following:
"Good Afternoon Brian,
Thank you for your email regarding ammending the email address on your Millets account.
There are only a few details which you are able to change, like address and password, but unfortunately you cannot ammend the email address linked to the account.
A new account will need to be set up with your new email address, sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you.
If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Customer Care.
Millets Customer Care"