The horror of rewritten home-page URLs

Written by Adrian Holovaty on September 6, 2002

I'm reading Jakob Nielsen's Homepage Usability, and one of the points Jakob stresses to death is the importance of clean, memorable home page URLs. A snippet from the book:

Once users locate a website, a simple homepage URL helps them quickly understand that they are in the right place, whereas complex URLs can make them wonder if they're indeed on the correct page...It is especially startling when users enter a simple URL and get to a site, only to have the URL they typed replaced by a long, scary-looking URL.

Although I think Jakob can be somewhat militant, I agree completely on this point. It's jarring and bookmark-unfriendly to have a URL change in front of your eyes. It's like having the carpet pulled out from under you.

I found a few news sites that do this and have listed them here. The URL I typed in is first, and the rewritten URL is second.

Redundancy Department

Owned-By-Somebody-Else Department

"No, Please" Department

Let's-Just-Give-'Em-An-IP-Address Department

Somewhat-Scary Department

Especially-Long-And-Scary Department

Comments

Posted by Chris on September 6, 2002 at 1:25 p.m.:

Here's another one:

msnbc.com = http://www.msnbc.com/news/default.asp?0ct=-34o

And try remembering this to find an apartment in Lawrence, Kan. (I found this in a classified ad.):

http://meadowbrookapartments.talkoftheplanet.com

Posted by LauraFries.com on March 3, 2006 at 10:57 p.m.:

Can all of this be blamed on the papers? I've worked with several proprietary CMS(s?) that served up goobledyglock URLs as par for the course.

I agree about the importance; I just wonder how much control us non-Ellington follks have :).

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