url of a website

Experience Design of web URLs

The product’s URL is often ignored in the product design process, but it has a big effect on the user experience. Many users (especially professional ones) interact directly with the URL. In this article, I will explain some principles of designing site addresses that make your web app more usable.

URL design principles in web apps:

  1. Your URLs shouldn’t be case-sensitive, except for temporary pages that the user is not going to visit later. (The output of some hash generators is case sensitive, which is better if not used as a unique ID in our web application’s permanent URLs.)
  2. When generating a unique ID in an application, remember to use the shortest combination of characters, so that your URL won’t be long. (The Nelson-Norman website says that the total URL size should be less than 80 characters). The combination of 7 characters consisting of numbers and English letters (which are 38 characters in total) can generate 78 billion unique ID. Isn’t that enough for you?
  3. Content pages (like blog posts) must be Stateless, and by sending the page address to others, the exact same page must be shown with the same content. So, using iFrame or Ajax to load content on these pages is forbidden!
  4. Broken links mean losing the user; So you have to keep your links alive forever. Even if you change the content management system of the site and your links change, you can technically forward the old URLs to the new ones, so that the users who have bookmarked the link will not be disappointed.
  5. A good URL should be predictable. For example, for contact or support, just one word after the domain name is enough. (Try to have your URLs without page extensions, for example, .html or .php extensions. These are better for users and have a higher score for Google SEO)
  6. Try to create URLs like the way they appear in your Sitemap. For example: we have “Music> America> JLo> Song34“ on the Sitemap. And in the address, “music/America/JLo/34” can be a good choice, and if the user deletes, for example, 34 from the end of the address and presses Enter, take him to the Jlo songs page…, and if he also deletes Jlo, take him to the America music page.
  7. The slash at the end of the URL should be optional, and if the user uses it or not, it should reach a page with a canonical URL. (You have to control this with code)
  8. Search page URL design: When a user searches for something, put the search word in the URL as a query string. If he sends the search link to his friend, his friend can see exactly the same content and results. So using the Post method in search pages is a very bad idea. Except in WebApp searches where the user may not see the URL at all (in mobile apps) or it may be an in-app search that does not allow links to be sent to others at all.

Specifications of a good domain name:

If you haven’t chosen the domain yet, you can consider some of these rules that can help you choose a better domain:

  1. A Good domain is short. The shorter, the better, but no abbreviations.
  2. When the user hears it, everyone should be able to guess and write it in a unique way.
  3. For your target audience, it doesn’t have a bad meaning. (for example, pinup.com is not a good domain for pinning sticky notes 🙂
  4. Most users are not yet familiar with long extensions (such as .design and .news), but .com or .net are widely known.
  5. Your home page should not be on a subdomain. (Even a well-known site like Delicious, whose address was del.icio.us, switched to the delicious.com domain.