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Beautiful URLs

Jim Ray links to a good post by Kyle Neath about URL design (emphasis mine):

Any regular semi-technical user of your site should be able to navigate 90% of your app based off memory of the URL structure. In order to achieve this, your URLs will need to be pragmatic. Almost like they were a math equation — many simple rules combined in a strategic fashion to get to the page they want.

A thousand times yes. I’m reminded of Simon Willison’s notes on a talk Tom Coates gave in 2006 which are still massively valid1 (emphasis mine):

Good URLs should:

  • be permanent references to resources
  • have a 1-to-1 correlation with concepts
  • use directories to represent hierarchy (e.g. subordinate parts)
  • NOT reflect the underlying technology - especially if it might change
  • reflect the structure of the data
  • be predictable/guessable/hackable
  • be as human readable as possible

Good URLs are beautiful and a mark of design quality

Furthermore, a page’s <title> should be a reply to it’s URL.

  1. PDF of Coates’ slides from Future of Web Apps ‘06: Native to a Web of Data.