URL Hotties

To take a leaf out of ValleyWag's book, It pays to be attractive, even for URLs! I was doing research for the O'Reilly book I'm co-writing and came across some gushing posts about URLs.

To take a leaf out of ValleyWag's book, It pays to be attractive, even for URLs! I was doing research for the O'Reilly book I'm co-writing and came across some gushing posts about URLs. About how beautiful they are.

As Mike Schinkel once put it, "Well Designed URLs are Beautiful!" Mike has a strict set of requirements for a beautiful URL - they should point to content that doesn't change, the URI itself shouldn't change, they should be Readable and Heirarchical, they should "mean something", and so on. 

And he's not alone in appreciating the finer points of a URL. Tim Berners-Lee himself once wrote a treatise in 1998 entitled 'Cool URIs don't change'. Sir Tim of course is not one to love 'em and leave 'em. He looks for long-term commitment:

"It the the duty of a Webmaster to allocate URIs which you will be able to stand by in 2 years, in 20 years, in 200 years. This needs thought, and organization, and commitment."

Jakob Nielsen has also written on the aesthetic principles of URLs, in an article entitled 'URL as UI' - including suggesting that persistent URLs attract links. It pays to be attractive, even for URLs! Is it a worrying sign though that Jakob likes .sex domains?

"The proposals to open up new top-level domains like .shop are a poor solution from a usability perspective since there is no easy way to remember which domain ending is associated with which site. The only new TLD that's useful is .sex which would allow very simple ways of filtering content that's undesired (or desired, as the case may be)."

Of course being beautiful isn't all about aesthetics and raw sex appeal. Indeed the main qualifier is uniqueness, as the following excerpt from a W3C webpage on Addressing shows:

"The Web is an information space. Human beings have a lot of mental machinery for manipulating, imagining, and finding their way in spaces. URIs are the points in that space. Unlike web data formats, where HTML is an important one, but not the only one, and web protocols, where HTTP has a similar status, there is only one Web naming/addressing technology: URIs."

So there you have it, URL hot or nots. I guess this is a sign I'm spending too much time on Web tech matters, if I'm writing about the beauty of URLs on a Saturday morning! :-) Happy weekend everyone!