Great article by Kyle Neath on the importance of human-friendly URL design. He’s primarily talking about usability and longevity of the URL structure as it relates to web apps, his underlying point is relevant for all types of web sites.

Two years ago I modified all the permalinks. For the first 18 months, each permalink had a simple “…/year/article-name/” structure. Such as:

I remember purposefully setting them up that way in order to keep the URLs as short and sweet as possible. However, when I read other weblogs I often glance at the URL to reference when the post was published. And I felt that having my posts linked by their year of publication alone left a bit to be desired.

Because, comparing two articles — one written on December 31, 2008 and the other on January 1, 2009 — it may seem as if they were written an entire year apart, instead of one day. And similarly, two posts — one written January 1, 2008 and the other on December 31, 2008 — may seem chronologically near, but are actually not.

Which is why, in 2009, I changed the permalinks to look like this:

By adding the month of publication to the URL it is still short, and there is now an added reference to aid the savvy reader. Additionally, the new permalink structure is a three-in-one tool for reading. You can peel back the layers of the URL to dig deeper into this site.

If you delete the article name from the URL you will find yourself at the archive listing for the year and month of that article’s publication date. If you then delete the month from the URL you get the archive listing for the whole year.

Ian Hines has really put some thought into the URL structure of his weblog and has done something quite clever. Using a vanity URL and adjusting the slug of each category his URLs literally read like a sentence containing subject, verb, and object in that order:


URL Design