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The Ux Of Urls


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 08:08 AM

This article is making the rounds among some of my dev friends. For many of us, making user friendly, SEO logical URLs is standard practice. But for newcomers to the stage, apparently they need reminders.

 

The comments are all over the place  :dazed:

 

 

URLS are UI

 

I proposed this. URLs are rarely a tech problem They are an organizational willpower problem. You care a lot about the evocative 2meg jpg hero image on your website. You change fonts, move CSS around ad infinitum, and agonize over single pixels. You should also care about your URLs.

 

 



#2 iamlost

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:50 PM

Totally in love with that print URL with a zillion parameters - was worth clicking just to see that!
 

parameters.png

 

Inquiring minds want to know:

Did anyone ever actually type that monstrousity in?
Did anyone ever go berserk attempting to?

Note: given the subject of the article the image 'name' is blackly humourous:

image_16e77c3b-0e10-4ac8-a1f4-98afc6364af1.png

apparently they need reminders

Every generation of webdevs needs to be reminded of both best practices and the why's thereof. Back in the day Jakob Nielsen was speaking out because it was necessary. He still does because it still is, except worse, because platform developers are programmers who are solving a sequence of small problems without any strategic goal or oversight.

Sites are almost never ever built with a coherent architecture for pities sake. WordPress et al are basically patches on patches on patches in an attempt to be sensibly usable outside a blog timeline structure. Basic text URLs are a patch!

IF architecture and usability have been afterthoughts, if ever thought, since the beginning the majority of webdevs haven't a history (other than of JN playing Kassandra) of why it might be worthwhile.

Note: actually most webdevs have probably never heard of, let alone read, JN.

IF most/all platforms used by the last decade of plug'n'play cut'n'paste webdevs are architecture, usability hacks upon hacks to some sufferance minimalism the majority of webdevs have neither the knowledge nor skills to comprehend what might be lacking except what some conference reality 'star' blogs about a decade late and comprehension short.

IF many/most marketers found URL parameters easy peasy segmentation especially since rel=canonical became an easy peasy out of any Google problems with their mess is it any surprise that the swamp has simply got deeper and murkier?

IF most webdevs believe Amazon and Google owe them a living why would it ever enter their self centred egotistical id's that they owe their visitors something, anything?

IF you can keep your head when all about you   
Are losing theirs...
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it...

Frankly, I'll take their ignorance, their incompetence, and raise them all a competitive advantage.
 

 

Ummm, you may just have pressed a button there... :moon:


Edited by iamlost, 13 July 2017 - 12:51 PM.


#3 bobbb

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 01:05 PM

I ask how come shortened URLs are so popular and everywhere? Not the type mentioned in the article.

How and why is the top one better. It's shorter? Neither is easy to remember except one tells you where you are going and what it's all about.
 

https://t.co/bNnX98p29p
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/07/05/a-newly-unearthed-photo-shows-amelia-earhart-survived-her-final-flight-investigators-say/


#4 cre8pc

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:14 AM

Ummm, you may just have pressed a button there...  :moon:

 

 

We need more reasons to use that emoticon.

 

:lederhosen:



#5 Grumpus

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:58 AM

 

I ask how come shortened URLs are so popular and everywhere? Not the type mentioned in the article.

How and why is the top one better. It's shorter? Neither is easy to remember except one tells you where you are going and what it's all about.
 

https://t.co/bNnX98p29p
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/07/05/a-newly-unearthed-photo-shows-amelia-earhart-survived-her-final-flight-investigators-say/

 

The top URL isn't better. The popularity of the URL shortener came from one simple number: 140. With the advent of twitter, you were limited to 140 characters - including the link you were going to post. if you were to post a link to that Washington Post article on twitter, you'd have very few characters left to actually tell people why you think they should read it. URL shorteners didn't exist before Twitter.

Granted, the Washington Post article  URL is horrible. Too many words, stop words (like "a" and "her" which can be removed without any thought/consideration) and plenty of others which probably should be removed. The /wp/ section of the URL seems like it is probably irrelevant too.

A key thing missing from this article, but that iamlost touched on above, is canonicals. When you have two URLs that resolve to the same page (or wildcards like the stackoverflow.com/users/6380/fancy-pants example) you have to make sure you have proper canonicals set up.

 

Another thing not touched on (though I didn't read all the comments, so someone may have brought it up later) is that it's a UI/UX issue in breaking down a URL.

 

If you take the washington post example above, each element is a "key" and you should be able to strip off each item and get to a more broad selection that actually resolves to a page. In the Post, we have a department of "Retropolis" and then they organize things by date (rather than category, which is a mistake, IMO, but that's more of a personal preference, not a rule). We'll ignore the "/wp/" portion of the URL, since that should be removed anyway...

 

If I were to strip the article name off...

www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/2017/07/05/

This URL should give me a list of EVERY article published in the Retropolis department on the 5th of July, 2017.

www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/2017/07/

This URL should resolve to a page that lists every article published in July of 2017

 

www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/2017/

And this URL should resolve to a page that lists every article from 2017.

 

www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/

This URL should resolve to an index of ALL articles in the Retropolis department.

 

www.washingtonpost.com/news/

And, of course, this should be an idex of all news across all departments at the Washington Post.

 

No matter how you decide to organize your info - by date, by major topic, or whatever - each slash should create a tree of information that you can use to easily work back upwards. People will almost never use it, but it is a HUGE indicator for both user experience and to help search engines understand what a page is going to be about and how it might rank even before the page is crawled and indexed.

 

Wordpress doesn't do date indexes like this out of the box (though it can be taught to do so). It DOES (if you set up your permalinks properly) work this way if you organize by category or tag, though.

 

G.



#6 bobbb

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:21 PM

I wasn't praising the WP URL. It just happened to be the article I was reading at the time so I copied it. The way which is described in the article is obviously the better solution (best?).

 

So this post would be available as just www.cre8asiteforums.com/forums/topic/94033 or www.cre8asiteforums.com/forums/94033 or something. (this is not a criticism)

 

You explained how these terrible URLs occurred. I think we knew this. Like everything else, we have to dumb things down for the lease capable device (platform in this case).

 

I still waiting for the return of the 80 characters by 24 line screens. ;)



#7 jonbey

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 01:27 PM

Do people see URLs anymore though? Most people view web on mobile, and URLs not really visible. People follow links, they don't read and type URLs, do they? Apart from the short ones that are deliberated made to be promoted.



#8 Grumpus

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 04:26 AM

Do people see URLs anymore though? Most people view web on mobile, and URLs not really visible. People follow links, they don't read and type URLs, do they? Apart from the short ones that are deliberated made to be promoted.

 

True, but this is why we're starting to see the breadcrumb trail making a comeback - which follows the same rules I outlined above.





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