August 22, 2011

The importance of URLs

I have been a Blogger user for years. I still swear by Blogger for a number of reasons. One of them is that URLs are very important for the web, and Blogger understands that.

Try this: go to icanread.tumblr.com and click on "next" link at the bottom. You'll be taken to http://icanread.tumblr.com/page/2. Go to blog.fatema.in and click on "previous entries" at the bottom. You'll be taken to http://blog.fatema.in/page/2. Go to thewayialwayswas.blogspot.com and click on "older posts" at the bottom. You'll be taken to http://thewayialwayswas.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-08-12T09%3A00%3A00%2B08%3A00&max-results=3.

Now, the designer kind might think that Blogger URLs are ugly while WordPress and Tumblr URLs are neat. But there's more than what meets our eyes.

Let's say you find the content in one of these links interesting, and you share it with some of your friends. Naturally you'd just grab the URL from the address bar and share it. If your friend happens to open your link only a few weeks later, they might be seeing content that is completely different from what you intended to share.

Why? Because both Tumblr and WordPress "page" URLs are not unique identifiers to content. The same /page/2 URL will be showing different content based on how many new posts are added after you copied the URL. Blogger's URL, on the other hand, fixes on published date, so the content is much more likely to stay the same over time.

PS: It might be possible to configure WordPress to generate good URLs like Blogger; I don't know for sure.

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