Unfriendly URLs Are Bad

I was reading Raj Dash’s post “41 Reasons Why Your Blog Probably Sucks.” Reason number 30 sticks out to me: Unfriendly URLs.

He’s talking about blogs, specifically, but this is a battle I fight every day with web applications.

When we build new services and deploy new applications we have a choice. Do we make the users remember some awful URL, or do we use DNS and web redirects & aliases to simplify things?

Here’s an example from my life. Someone in my organization thinks it’s okay to make people remember this URL in order to do their time reporting:

https://barney.company.com:9001/OA_HTML/US/ICXINDEX.htm

If I’m on a machine where I don’t have that URL bookmarked I won’t be able to find it. I have to ask someone, look in documentation, or call a Help Desk, all of which makes me feel like an idiot. Like most others, I don’t like feeling like an idiot. Why couldn’t they have registered something easy to remember, like:

https://timesheet.company.com/

as a virtual host and redirected me to the right place?

This also goes for http:// vs. https://, too. If you want your service to use SSL then make it friendly for those people who just type time.company.com in their browser (which will always assume http://). Redirect them to the SSL side, rather than going nowhere or giving them an error.

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