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This question follows on from this question: Better term for “user”.

If it's bad UX to call people using your product "user" then isn't it also bad UX to structure your URL's as YourDomain.com/user/bobsmith?

Is there a better term to use that is human readable (so no /u/bobsmith) and clear to most people?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If there is a better term, it will be very relative to your business.
www.ex.com/subscriber/john_lennon could be appropriate for most news services, even if free.

This can also be quite different from 'profile' paths

www.ex.com/profile/john_lennon

vs. 'account' paths,

www.ex.com/account/john_lennon

where the former is about public image, and the latter is about configuration and preferences. though most trends today avoid generics like 'profile' instead using the content terms that come from said-user's interaction, e.g.

www.ex.com/followers/john_lennon
www.ex.com/following/john_lennon
www.ex.com/comments/john_lennon
www.ex.com/john_lennon
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+1 It's not often that I see a new better answer to an old question. Very nicely done. –  JohnGB Mar 25 '13 at 13:37
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It's an extremely contentious issue whether "user" is a bad word or not. If you want to maintain any clarity I would strongly advise against calling all people in all situations 'people.' You can't get any less specific and unhelpful than that. As long as there is a distinction between people that user or have access to your service and people in general (there always will be) it makes more sense to use a more descriptive word.

However, I'm not sure /user/ is required in your URL structure, it seems like an unnecessary subdirectory, at least from the ahem user's point of view. Note that Twitter, Google +, Youtube and many other popular profile/user content based sites just use domain.com/bobsmith or bobsmith.domain.com, this is most applicable when the user has their own little "page" or section on the site however, and if this is just an account/profile page it wouldn't be as applicable.

If it's more like an account management URL you could consider domain.com/account/bobsmith but if it's a profile the large majority of sites still use domain.com/user/bobsmith, including this one. People know what user means and they'll be more familiar with the term in this context than any term you make up to try and be touchy-feely. Unless you have good reason to believe your users feel insulted, uneasy or confused each time they read the word "user" I would stick to semantic convention.

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Nice response, Ben. Most people will know what it means in the url - at least, within the small subset that actually look at the url - so why go out of the way to introduce uncertainty. –  gef05 Sep 27 '11 at 13:20
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“User” is not a bad word. For example, Dailymotion uses it in Web addresses, like this : www.dailymotion.com/user/asi/1. You can also choose the word person.

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