It has been a hard lesson to learn, that is that not every, in fact, a lot of people don’t have an email address. For a long time, I knew that older, often retired people, don’t have emails. They left the workforce before email was big and now they just don’t have a need for it. As I’ve learned, many people share email addresses or don’t have one at all.
Since email is free, I don’t understand why or how this could be. It goes counter to everything I understand about living life in the 21st century. I’ve always believed that people have online lives, Facebook or at least an Amazon.com account. I know for sure that everyone who has an Android smart phone has at least one email address. As a Mac or iPhone user, I know they have one or two at least.
So how is it so hard for people to use a website for purchases that requires an email? I write online purchase websites and just about the only way to do ecommerce is with an email address. It just works that way, you want a receipt, you want to be able to track your order, you want to be able to return stuff or you want to contact the vendor, all of these things require an email address.
So, I’ve resigned myself to believe that requiring emails isn’t going to work. Even if they are turning over a large chunk of their personal information, like for the blood testing site I wrote, it seems they don’t have an email or they seem to share an email with other people.
There are a lot of advantages to using email as the primary identifier of users. It allows them to reset their password if they forget it. It allows the site to send receipts. It insures people don’t create multiple accounts by mistake.
So from now on, I’ll go back to usernames and drop the idea that people should have an email account to communicate with their websites.