I'm not that technical, but I'm frustrated that the problem with harmful URLs doesn't seem to want to go away. Microsoft's very own Jon Udell started 2008 with a very well written comment on .aspx considered harmful, but .aspx is still the standard default used in most SharePoint 2007-driven public websites. Over at CMS Watch, I did follow up on Udells comment with a posting on Location matters: URLs should be short, meaningful and permanent.
Today, many Web CMS vendors are actively promoting what they call friendly URLs, short URLs, nice URLs or whatever. Here are 2 quick examples:
- FatWire promotes their friendly URLs, which take this form www.fatwire.com/cs/Satellite/Page/Home
- Sitecore claims that their solution "natively delivers URLs that improve organic search results" with URLs like this www.sitecore.net/Products/Sitecore%20CMS.aspx?nav=t
The problem with the above examples is that they are technology and vendor-specific. They are highly unlikely to work in late 2010 as technology and vendors change. Sitecore might natively deliver URLs that Google likes, but bear in mind that the .aspx will not be state-of-the-art forever (just like it predecessor .asp) and once a new technology comes along, you will either end up with many broken links or you will need to spend time carefully managing redirects.
I'm sure you've experienced the dreaded Page Not Found 404 error. It happened to me earlier this evening on a large shopping site. When an enterprise presents a customer with a "404" the consequence is typically:
- less sales as customer cannot find what he/she is looking for
- user frustration due to expectations not being fulfilled
- low rankings in Google search results
- a browser bookmark or e-mail does not work, forcing the user to spend time finding the content (again)
Here are some good examples of harmless URLs from 3 different Danish organisations:
Try to take a closer look at the URLs on their sites for inspiration on how to get it right.
Note: Some vendors are worse than my 2 examples. However, to be fair, some vendors get it, e.g. EPiServer and eZ.
Do you know any other vendors that have got it right? Have you got any examples of vendors that still provide really nasty and harmful URLs? Likewise, let me know if you disagree and think this is not an important issue.