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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Are these URL's too long??

    Are the following URL's too long or complex from a Usability standpoint...
    Code:
    www.mysite.com/finance/accounting/why-you-should-hire-a-cpa
    
    www.mysite.com/legal/s-corp/benefits-of-incorporating-your-small-business
    
    www.mysite.com/legal/online/make-sure-you-are-charging-sales-tax
    
    www.mysite.com/marketing/going-live/how-to-tell-the-world-about-your-new-business

    They follow this simple pattern...

    Category > Sub-Category > Article


    My website is very complex from a Content-perspective, but in my opinion, the above scheme has helped me whittle things down to something very manageable.

    Unfortunately, I have one person who is protesting, and says that my URL's are way to long?!

    (Apparently he hasn't been to Amazon.com lately...)

    What do you think?

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy PicnicTutorials's Avatar
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    No they are not. That's the way everyone does them now. They do them that way primarily for google. If it was just for you or the user you could get away with many less characters to get across the same meaning. Anyways longtail urls is how I do it also.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot Siick26's Avatar
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    They look fine, but if you were to regulary spread links on social media etc;, then it would be a good idea to buy a short url. This makes it easier for your visitor then. The best site to find available short urls is - /domai.nr/

    ie your domain could look something like

    double.de
    doub.de
    douburl.de

    or whatever

  4. #4
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    I agree with both posts above me. A short url that you own/control is not a bad idea, and no I also don't see your URLs as too long, mostly because they're made up of human-readable words and theses are easier to remember/recognise than if they were that length but full of LinkedIn-style gobbledygook.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    Glad to hear a few people think that I'm on the right track!! (DaveMaxwell and MackBrown4 didn't seem to agree here...)

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  6. #6
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Mark has a good idea about having your main subcategories work... not all sites do this, but for example our e-commerce sites do (if it's something like domain.com/toners/p/some-particular-toner, you can get to a general list of all toners at domain.com/toners/ as well). I think what he might have meant about removing subcategories was if you have more than a handful of them, or have pages that are kind of individual and don't necessarily fit under any particular category.

    Dave said try to make them as short as possible: of course this is a good thing, but it's just something to generally strive for if you can. Of course shorter would be easier for someone to remember, but we know from user testing that if it's somewhat longer, yet composed of human-readable phrases, that it's still easier to remember than either a long or short URL composed of garbage.
    lavluda.com/2007/07/15/how-to-enable-mod_rewrite-in-apache22-debian/ is an example of an admittedly long URL, very typical of wordpress. His subdirectories work as well, so if I only remembered his domain name and the year (2007) I can type that in, get a list of everything he's published in 2007, and scan until I see the one about Apache2.2 and Debian. I don't think it's a bad URL at all. Would it be even easier to remember if it were shorter? Sure. But shorter doesn't work with how his WP setup does URLs (turns titles into unique page links). *shrug*

    You asked, "So how long is too long?"

    How many camels does it take to drink a lake? The answer is very subjective. Sometimes our e-commerce URLs are kind of deep because we have some product categories with 2 or 3 levels of subcategories, because that's simply how the databases from the clients are set up. Eventually the URLs are rather too long to expect someone to remember them (but with URLs there's also a benefit in *recognition* which most humans do much easier than recollection), and that's unfortunate, but we live with it. In fact at some point we got some clients to agree to remove some levels and make a "special" category for what really was miscellaneous stuff that simply each didn't need some subcategory. Now those are domain.com/special/ for the special things page and domain.com/special/p/product-name for each product. Still pretty okay.

    Mark did think having 3 levels of subcategories is a bit too long. It's kind of long, but if users can use those category names as end-links like Lavluda's "2007" does, it's not necessarily bad.

    You also aren't required in any way to mimic your back-end folder system. It might be easier, or not, but don't twist yourself up too much about rules. Also, while your subdirectories make some sense, the longer your URL gets, the less sense they'll make to more people. The links you've posted in this thread are *maximum* two categories deep and some are just one. That's why they look fine to me and the length of the actual page part is a semi-readable sentence, which makes it look long but is still doable for many people. At worst someone will vaguely remember your page name and type it into a search engine, where it will probably come up pretty close to the top.

    Also, some of your subcategories might be redundant: for example if you have a subcategory called "accounting", having that listed as under "finance" might be kind of useless. However if some of your accounting articles are about using software tools, while others are about legal implications, then domain.com/legal/accounting/name-of-page and domain.com/tools(or software)/accounting/name-of-page *might* be useful (because users who navigate by category, which I do but don't know how often most normal people do, can get to all legal or all tools/software based on that URL). Meanwhile general accounting would be better off in just domain.com/accounting/name-of-article.

    My above paragraph makes it start to get complicated, so don't let it bug you-- the last thing you want is a complicated URL system. It'll be a pain in your butt and a pain to maintain. But if you've got lots of chained subcategories now and are looking to shrink them, something like the above might help you figure out where to cut.

    I might agree with Dave also that your physical site menu and breadcrumb structure are probably more important to average users. I mean, *i* use URLs to navigate sites, especially with structures like a typical WP site has... but I'm also a web developer, so I'm probably weird. I also know what the SysReq key does, while I doubt most of the visitors to our e-commerce pages have any idea. I personally find chopping off ends of URLs to find parent pages really really nice and convenient. I don't know if 99% of your visitors will though. People do however use breadcrumbs and do benefit from stuff seeming to be structured sanely when they visit the site, but they totally don't care about how your backend is structured. You care about that, because you're maintaining it. But they don't.

    As Dave says in that other thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by daveMaxwell
    If you keep it to a level or two, sure.
    This sounds nice to me. I think showing a level is good, and maybe because I'm a developer I personally prefer something there instead of all pages coming directly off the domain.com part. But indeed a few of the examples in the other thread started to get real weird real fast (though you also had them as examples of what you wanted to avoid... good). Again, what you posted above, here in this thread, are awesome in my point of view. They're long in number of characters, but they feel pretty simple and they look doable to me.

    You might want to do some user-testing on friends and grandmas or with your site's own analytics to see how people are dealing with them. Your sever logs will tell you *how* a hit got to your site (no referrer means either they typed it in by hand, had it bookmarked in their browser, or possibly are so paranoid that they've turned off all referrer headers from their browser). That will be useful information, as well as, are there many hits to domain.com/subcategory by themselves. If so, it would mean many people like going to the subcategory pages, and again if those didn't have a referrer (as in, they didn't get there by clicking a link on your site or in your menu) then that might suggest people are using your subcategories, and you might get a better idea if they're as useful as you think.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Stomme poes, you are beautiful!!


    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    Dave said try to make them as short as possible: of course this is a good thing, but it's just something to generally strive for if you can. Of course shorter would be easier for someone to remember, but we know from user testing that if it's somewhat longer, yet composed of human-readable phrases, that it's still easier to remember than either a long or short URL composed of garbage.
    lavluda.com/2007/07/15/how-to-enable-mod_rewrite-in-apache22-debian/ is an example of an admittedly long URL, very typical of wordpress. His subdirectories work as well, so if I only remembered his domain name and the year (2007) I can type that in, get a list of everything he's published in 2007, and scan until I see the one about Apache2.2 and Debian. I don't think it's a bad URL at all. Would it be even easier to remember if it were shorter? Sure. But shorter doesn't work with how his WP setup does URLs (turns titles into unique page links). *shrug*
    Right.



    You asked, "So how long is too long?"

    How many camels does it take to drink a lake? The answer is very subjective. Sometimes our e-commerce URLs are kind of deep because we have some product categories with 2 or 3 levels of subcategories, because that's simply how the databases from the clients are set up. Eventually the URLs are rather too long to expect someone to remember them (but with URLs there's also a benefit in *recognition* which most humans do much easier than recollection), and that's unfortunate, but we live with it. In fact at some point we got some clients to agree to remove some levels and make a "special" category for what really was miscellaneous stuff that simply each didn't need some subcategory. Now those are domain.com/special/ for the special things page and domain.com/special/p/product-name for each product. Still pretty okay.

    Mark did think having 3 levels of subcategories is a bit too long. It's kind of long, but if users can use those category names as end-links like Lavluda's "2007" does, it's not necessarily bad.
    But since I backed things off to just 2 levels, that should be okay.



    You also aren't required in any way to mimic your back-end folder system.
    All of my Articles are stored in MySQL, and my "article.php" template is stored in /articles/article.php


    Also, while your subdirectories make some sense, the longer your URL gets, the less sense they'll make to more people. The links you've posted in this thread are *maximum* two categories deep and some are just one. That's why they look fine to me and the length of the actual page part is a semi-readable sentence, which makes it look long but is still doable for many people. At worst someone will vaguely remember your page name and type it into a search engine, where it will probably come up pretty close to the top.
    Right. Just 2 levels.


    Also, some of your subcategories might be redundant: for example if you have a subcategory called "accounting", having that listed as under "finance" might be kind of useless. However if some of your accounting articles are about using software tools, while others are about legal implications, then domain.com/legal/accounting/name-of-page and domain.com/tools(or software)/accounting/name-of-page *might* be useful (because users who navigate by category, which I do but don't know how often most normal people do, can get to all legal or all tools/software based on that URL). Meanwhile general accounting would be better off in just domain.com/accounting/name-of-article.
    Finance is about "making money". Accounting is about "counting money". They are different concepts, but since "Finance" implies "Financials" and "Money", I decided - for now - to roll in "Accounting" under "Finance".

    Time will tell what to do with particular one. Thanks for the tips, though.


    My above paragraph makes it start to get complicated, so don't let it bug you-- the last thing you want is a complicated URL system. It'll be a pain in your butt and a pain to maintain. But if you've got lots of chained subcategories now and are looking to shrink them, something like the above might help you figure out where to cut.
    Right.


    I might agree with Dave also that your physical site menu and breadcrumb structure are probably more important to average users. I mean, *i* use URLs to navigate sites, especially with structures like a typical WP site has... but I'm also a web developer, so I'm probably weird. I also know what the SysReq key does, while I doubt most of the visitors to our e-commerce pages have any idea. I personally find chopping off ends of URLs to find parent pages really really nice and convenient. I don't know if 99% of your visitors will though. People do however use breadcrumbs and do benefit from stuff seeming to be structured sanely when they visit the site, but they totally don't care about how your backend is structured. You care about that, because you're maintaining it. But they don't.
    Valid point.

    Once I get my back-end Data Model figured out, and all of the other hideous PHP and mod_rewrites I have to tackle, then *if* I think I can program Breadcrumbs, I'd love to add them.

    But since I have a home-grown, pseudo-CMS, and since not all of my content is in my database (e.g. Home Page, Section Landing Pages, etc), it could be a lot of work to get Breadcrumbs working with my current architecture....


    As Dave says in that other thread:

    This sounds nice to me. I think showing a level is good, and maybe because I'm a developer I personally prefer something there instead of all pages coming directly off the domain.com part. But indeed a few of the examples in the other thread started to get real weird real fast (though you also had them as examples of what you wanted to avoid... good). Again, what you posted above, here in this thread, are awesome in my point of view. They're long in number of characters, but they feel pretty simple and they look doable to me.
    Glad to hear!!


    You might want to do some user-testing on friends and grandmas or with your site's own analytics to see how people are dealing with them. Your sever logs will tell you *how* a hit got to your site (no referrer means either they typed it in by hand, had it bookmarked in their browser, or possibly are so paranoid that they've turned off all referrer headers from their browser). That will be useful information, as well as, are there many hits to domain.com/subcategory by themselves. If so, it would mean many people like going to the subcategory pages, and again if those didn't have a referrer (as in, they didn't get there by clicking a link on your site or in your menu) then that might suggest people are using your subcategories, and you might get a better idea if they're as useful as you think.
    Good idea.

    As always, THANKS for your long and detailed response!!

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  8. #8
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    No , they are not . These Long links are good for seo as they contain number of keywords

  9. #9
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    I hate SEO

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard rguy84's Avatar
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    I find that the only people that care about the URL is the content owner and SEO "experts", not your non-geek/dev user. I usually can get the content owner to quiet down fairly well by point out I am the dev, aka the guy that holds it together. SEO: yeah it helps some, but if you're that dependent on URLs, you are probably doing something wrong.

    That being said, I would make the URLs: domain/category/article-title, but chop it off after 4/5 words. If you are concerned with overlapping URLs, throw in the article id in prior to the title.
    Ryan B | My Blog | Twitter

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by rguy84 View Post
    I find that the only people that care about the URL is the content owner and SEO "experts", not your non-geek/dev user. I usually can get the content owner to quiet down fairly well by point out I am the dev, aka the guy that holds it together. SEO: yeah it helps some, but if you're that dependent on URLs, you are probably doing something wrong.
    I don't understand it either. To spend so much time on something that is really so insignificant is a complete waste of effort and money in the real world. I have never hand typed any URL. I always copy and paste so could really care less how long or short they are. I guess it is kind of nice to have a human readable URL but it doesn't really matter imo. Much better spending the time on other features.Unless you really see yourself printing URLs to these pages lets be realistic *most people are going to copy and paste URLs to inner pages.
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  12. #12
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    I find that the only people that care about the URL is the content owner and SEO "experts", not your non-geek/dev user.
    I've heard non-geeks and non-devs complain about how crappy and horrid and hard to send to other people the LinkedIn URLs are. They're usually filled with *'s and 1's and login information, none of which belongs in the URL at all.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oddz View Post
    I don't understand it either. To spend so much time on something that is really so insignificant is a complete waste of effort and money in the real world. I have never hand typed any URL. I always copy and paste so could really care less how long or short they are. I guess it is kind of nice to have a human readable URL but it doesn't really matter imo. Much better spending the time on other features.Unless you really see yourself printing URLs to these pages lets be realistic *most people are going to copy and paste URLs to inner pages.
    Why spend the time??

    Because I have ALWAYS looked to the URL to help me know where I am in the website. (Think "Breadcrumb".)


    Come on, man, would you rather look at this...

    Code:
    www.mysite.com/finance/accounting/why-you-should-hire-a-cpa
    Or this...
    Code:
    www.mysite.com/index.php?cat=123_f&sub=701_a&id=2w3e4r56gvbhjkmol,poy78r56cfgvbhju8i9kombhgve45cfgijokmopi9cfgtybhmkopi9u8fty

    Just goes to show we all approach life differently!!


    But for me, I cannot fathom building a website that didn't make a decent attempt at making the URL sensible.

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    I always look to the... breadcrumbs. If you don't have breadcrumbs than perhaps that is the feature that the time should have spent on. Visual cues on the page are far more relevant than the URL for that problem. Many people don't even know what a URL even is.
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard rguy84's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    I've heard non-geeks and non-devs complain about how crappy and horrid and hard to send to other people the LinkedIn URLs are. They're usually filled with *'s and 1's and login information, none of which belongs in the URL at all.
    My guess about LinkedIn is that they started to use a hokey CMS or something, then the beast got too big to be able to fix.

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDee View Post
    Why spend the time??

    Because I have ALWAYS looked to the URL to help me know where I am in the website. (Think "Breadcrumb".)
    See my comment, you're a dev. Go to a relative, or a neighbor, ask them. I bet 9/10 they will just think you're nuts.
    Ryan B | My Blog | Twitter

  16. #16
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie
    But for me, I cannot fathom building a website that didn't make a decent attempt at making the URL sensible.
    I can't, either. Why the hell would one ever prefer a crappy human-unreadable URL to one that makes sense?

    It's true those of us who know to use internets use URLs for navigation, and is indeed likely most people don't. Still no excuse for crap like foo.com/?=aslkdjkadsjfbjasbdfkjasdkjnaf. That crap's insane. I believe that, within reason, a URL should either tell you where you are or where you're going, along with the breadcrumbs and good link text.

    Quote Originally Posted by oddz
    If you don't have breadcrumbs than perhaps that is the feature that the time should have spent on.
    If you read the other threads it's been a long hard slog trying to get breadcrumbs to work, so yes, she's already spending time on them.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    If you read the other threads it's been a long hard slog trying to get breadcrumbs to work, so yes, she's already spending time on them.
    Thanks, Stomme poes.


    Debbie


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