URL question

29 Mar 2007 - 9:49pm
7 years ago
2 replies
473 reads
beril guvendik
2006

I am working on a complex application which has a very basic content
management system as one of its components.

Within this component, it's possible to change the titles of these pages
or move them around within a 3 level hierarchy. Currently, the URLs to
these pages reflect the names and hierarchy of these pages. For example
I have a page titled "My workspace" and then a child page to this titled
"Day to day tasks". The URL to Day to day tasks would look like:
http://www.domain.com/My-workspace/Day-to-day-tasks
The biggest problem here is that if someone bookmarks or links to the
Day to day tasks page from elsewhere, and I go and change the title of
the My workspace to My pages, all the external links and bookmarks fail.

Someone suggested using unique IDs for the URL to change it to something
like http://www.domain.com/cmspages?id=234 so the URL would be
independent from the content and hierarchical location of the page.
Someone else says "typability" is more important that "bookmarkability"
so the first URL should stay and the id version should be a link on the
page with a label which says "Bookmark link" or somesuch. My gut feeling
is that users will copy and paste the URL directly from the browser's
address area or use the browser's native bookmarking capability before
they right-click on a bookmarkable link but I don't have any data to
support this.

I personally prefer being able to get back to the same page even if it
has been moved around if I have to choose. If the page is something I
visit often, my browser auto-fills the space and even if it's not a
readable link, I recognize it. If I don't visit the page often, it's
title, URL etc is long gone from my mind anyway. But even if I am the
minority and typability is more important, I am sure that having a
"Bookmark link" on the page be different from whatever is in the browser
window isn't really a good solution.

I would very much appreciate if anyone care share their wisdom and point
to any studies or good/bad examples for either cases.

Beril Guvendik
User Experience Designer

Comments

29 Mar 2007 - 10:49pm
Todd Moy
2007

Beril -

here's two solutions off the top of my head:

1. Change your content management system to remove the title-to-URL
dependency. You might need to implement a URI (Universal Resource
Indicator) dispatcher or something similar. This is probably the
hardest solution, but requires less maintenance than option #2. See
also: <http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI>

2. Implement a basic URL rewriting feature such as mod_rewrite or
maybe even use a .htaccess file. These allow you to redirect visitors
from one page to another if the URL changes. This could be a lot of
maintenance, because whenever you change the page title you have to
update the rewrite rules. IMHO, not a good solution if you expect to
change the page names a lot.

My gut would be to go with a URI dispatcher. You can craft a readable
URI which points to whatever page you choose. If you decide to change
page title, you're insulated against abandoning users who have
previously bookmarked a page.

Now, this recommendation comes with a limitation. If you chose option
1, your URIs would need to mimic those currently used in the system.
Otherwise, you'd abandon those people who have previously bookmarked
the page. On the other hand, everyone going forward gets a decent
experience.

You could mitigate this by using both: .htaccess file to map old URLs
to the new URIs to accommodate legacy bookmarks and a URI dispatcher
to separate the implementation (filename / page title) from the
resource identifier. That helps reduce your maintenance in the future.

Per the "?id=#" suggestion, I'm not a big fan of this because it
exposes the implementation too much and, well, it's not terribly
informative. I like cruft free, remember-able URLs--but that's just
me.

Todd

On 3/29/07, beril guvendik <berilguvendik at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I am working on a complex application which has a very basic content
> management system as one of its components.
>
> Within this component, it's possible to change the titles of these pages
> or move them around within a 3 level hierarchy. Currently, the URLs to
> these pages reflect the names and hierarchy of these pages. For example
> I have a page titled "My workspace" and then a child page to this titled
> "Day to day tasks". The URL to Day to day tasks would look like:
> http://www.domain.com/My-workspace/Day-to-day-tasks
> The biggest problem here is that if someone bookmarks or links to the
> Day to day tasks page from elsewhere, and I go and change the title of
> the My workspace to My pages, all the external links and bookmarks fail.
>
> Someone suggested using unique IDs for the URL to change it to something
> like http://www.domain.com/cmspages?id=234 so the URL would be
> independent from the content and hierarchical location of the page.
> Someone else says "typability" is more important that "bookmarkability"
> so the first URL should stay and the id version should be a link on the
> page with a label which says "Bookmark link" or somesuch. My gut feeling
> is that users will copy and paste the URL directly from the browser's
> address area or use the browser's native bookmarking capability before
> they right-click on a bookmarkable link but I don't have any data to
> support this.
>
> I personally prefer being able to get back to the same page even if it
> has been moved around if I have to choose. If the page is something I
> visit often, my browser auto-fills the space and even if it's not a
> readable link, I recognize it. If I don't visit the page often, it's
> title, URL etc is long gone from my mind anyway. But even if I am the
> minority and typability is more important, I am sure that having a
> "Bookmark link" on the page be different from whatever is in the browser
> window isn't really a good solution.
>
> I would very much appreciate if anyone care share their wisdom and point
> to any studies or good/bad examples for either cases.
>
> Beril Guvendik
> User Experience Designer
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
____________________________
oombrella | User Experience Design
http://www.oombrella.com
oombrella at gmail.com

1 Apr 2007 - 11:28pm
beril guvendik
2006

Thank you for the information and feedback. I passed on the suggestions
to our engineering group. The person I intended it for didn't buy it but
it generated interest in some others :)

Beril

Todd Moy wrote:
> Beril -
>
> here's two solutions off the top of my head:
>
> 1. Change your content management system to remove the title-to-URL
> dependency.
> 2. Implement a basic URL rewriting feature such as mod_rewrite or
> maybe even use a .htaccess file.

Syndicate content Get the feed