Article URLs week: Day 4
It’s the fourth day of Article URLs week, and today we’re looking at URLs at some of the top news sites. Largely, they do a better job than other sites we’ve seen:
- usatoday.com: A
This excellent URL does the date right and puts it in the correct hierarchical place. It has a nice slug and is hackable to world and news (although not iraq). The only thing missing from perfection is making the date hackable as folders rather than part of the filename.
- washingtonpost.com: C+
I really detest the
wp-dynpart. The date is arranged hierarchically, but which date is it? You might guess from the URL that this article was published in July 30’s newspaper, but no, it’s actually dated July 31 and was posted late last night. The biggest problem I have with the Post’s URLs, though, is that they don’t tell me what section the article is in. Is that a news story, a sports story or an op-ed? All the URLs look the same.
- nytimes.com: A-
I love how readable this one is, although
worldspecialis an dumb name for an Iraq section. My main suggestion would be to move the section to come before the date; I think it makes more logical sense and could become hackable that way.
- cnn.com: A
Strangely, CNN puts the section (
US) in the middle of the date, and I can’t think of a good reason why. Other than that, this is an outstanding URL and deserves not to be linked to with the superfluous
- msnbc.com: B
URLs with only ID numbers can be very short if they’re done well, as MSNBC does. But I prefer somewhat longer URLs that convey more information, like the date or a slug.
Tomorrow will be the final day of reviewing individual site’s URLs. Saturday we’ll wrap up with conclusions.
if i may, submitted for your disapproval is the Toronto Star, the largest paper in Canada. a sample:
(Massive cleanup follows "successful" concert)
I apologize if the long url breaks your layout in any way. Sorry.
Jason, I fixed the layout. That URL is utterly awful — even more utterly awful than the worst ones I’ve already pointed out. Using some kind of session ID in the URL is just disgusting. At least the server does seem to still give you the article if the session has expired, though — one tiny piece of forethought in a stupid design that definitely deserves an F.
Actually, concerning the Wash Post, it's not as clear cut as it appears. A number of 'special articles' get section treatment in its URLs. Movie Reviews follow this format http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/style/movies/reviews/A8091-2003Jul31.html, which can back track you to a list of recent reviews (/style/movies/reviews) or simply the Style section (/style) or this article on Metrobus being found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/metro/specials/metrorail/A15307-2003Aug2. (Yep, you can omit the '.html', but only if you place an /ac2/' between the domain name and the filepath.
For whatever reason, whenever they post links for you to follow from the website itself, it prefers the all purpose wp-dyn/article/. Probably because it's shorter. If you notice in the last link I gave you, the Post started putting pointers as to how to make these secret links.