Intelligent Paths Make Websites Friendlier.
February 22, 2008
Killersites.com is an old site, nearly 12 years old now!
Over that time (as we added more articles and tutorials), our directory structures and file naming styles changed as conventions changed. So now I have a huge mess to clean up.
… There is a lot of information buried in killersites.com that people just don’t find.
Fortunately, over the last 12-13 years of building websites and web applications, I’ve been able to figure out the best way to organize a website:
In this article, I discuss how to create an easier to maintain, more user friendly website by way of using intelligent paths.
So what are ‘intelligent paths’?
I’m talking about URL structures of course! So that means a few things:
- Building a SENSIBLE website directory structure.
- Using meaningful words in page names and directories.
- Using lower case text for page and directory names.
- Using dashes between words in both page and directory names.
… Let’s go over the details.
Sensible website directory structures
I am talking about being logical (in the hierarchy of your website) so that it should be easy for people to find content in your site. So for example, on killersites.com I now have major sections for WordPress, Dreamweaver and soon Flash. So when someone comes to my web site and finds themselves in the Dreamweaver section:
That same person, an enterprising nerd, might think that given the above Dreamweaver address/URL, that the WordPress URL could be found at:
… And thankfully, they would be correct!
And since killersites.com has plenty of free video tutorials to offer, it only makes sense that the videos be kept in a ‘videos’ sub-directory:
Wanting to be consistent (and logical) we should do the same thing for our Dreamweaver videos as well:
Later on, as I add new content (and reorganize the old content) I should remember to keep my directory/URL structures consistent. This will make the web site easier to navigate (users perspective) and easier to manage for us web designers.
Using meaningful words in page names and directories
I think this point is self describing …
As people are getting more web savvy, they will tend to look at page names and URLs more and more. Good (self describing) URLs give the surfer (and search engines) information about the content of the page they are visiting:
… I think that it is pretty clear what they will find on this page!
Consider a bad URL:
… how are people (and search engines) supposed to figure out that the above page is filled with Dreamweaver (dw) video tutorials (vt) made in 2008?
Using lower case text for page and directory names
This is more of an aesthetic thing – lower case text across the URL text is just nicer to look at. Consider an old (soon to be retired) URL:
Yikes! I describe the content well enough but the text just looks ugly! This would be nicer:
Easier to read, but some of the combined names will not make Google happy and the URL is kinda long. How about this:
… Now that’s a sensible URL!
Using dashes between words in both page and directory names
I know for a fact that search engines have an easier time discerning the subject of a page when words are separated by dashes as in:
.. rather than:
Besides the search engine advantage, the use of a dash makes it just a lot easier to read.
Just by following these few simple rules, you can make your web sites easier to maintain, easier to navigate and friendlier to the search engines.
Thanks for reading,