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I work on a modular onepager microsite in which I have several modules:

  • a rotator module (full width, rotating big visuals, each of them containing some CTA and action button)
  • several half width modules (placed in pairs, side by side) communicating values of a service
  • a conversion module (basically: a form)
  • a footer

Regarding the modules and rotator states, each of them communicates different values. The layout goes below the fold somewhere between the half-widht boxes.

Now, there are going to be several campaigns running (possibly) in the same time, communicating different values. As it is impossible to emphasise one value without degrading the other ones, and I don't want to end up with several layouts or additional landing pages, I have come up with an idea of dynamically configuring the modules order and rotator states using variables in url. Using this approach, I could adjust the landing page for the campaigns (thus boosting the campaigns results, I believe), while still having just one site (which would let me avoid some SEO problems).

The link would look e.g. like: http://www.somedomain.com/?moduleorder=13254&rotatorstate=2&rotatorfreezed=true where:

  • moduleorder=13254 regards the order of the modules
  • rotatorstate=2 regards the state of the rotator displayed upon opening the site
  • rotatorfreezed=true fixes the rotator state on the selected state (so that user has to click the previous/next chevron to trigger switching to another state manually)

Of course the variables and their names would be obscured.

Is this approach good or bad from user- and conversion-centered design points of view? Are there any studies of how to effectively implement this approach?

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Good as in 'do users like/dislike seeing details passed in on the URL query string', or good as in 'is this a good method for displaying variable content'? –  JonW Jun 27 '13 at 13:36
    
I think as long as the end result is the same as a static html page would be, such as having an ability to permalink, etc, it doesn't really matter how you accomplish it. This seems more like an engineering question than a UX question? –  William Jun 27 '13 at 13:45
    
@JonW - the second. I know it's not a good idea to have the variables visible in url, but in this case I think that it is a compromise. William - from engineering point of view this would be quite easy to perform. I refer to UCD/CCD in my question. Actually, it's more about validating the idea. –  Dominik Oslizlo Jun 27 '13 at 13:48
    
I think it's a good idea. It's more flexible and maintainable (win for you), and can still be treated as a regular link by users (win for them). –  William Jun 27 '13 at 13:57
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I would personally move and group those individual configurations into a server side files (campaignA, campaignB,...) and simply pass the file as a parameter. Eg. www.somedomain.com/?view=campaignX –  Rayraegah Jul 1 '13 at 10:16
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You have a few things to consider. Firstly, if a user is visiting a link on a semi-regular basis, but the site could drastically change between visits are they likely to feel a lack of control over the site? More importantly, if they are considering clicking the call to action, but the site looks different after multiple visits, are they going to realise its the same site, and are they going to feel confident to click the call to action if it's moving around the page.

Familiarity would go out the window, instead offering the user essentially a unique layout each time.

As usual it depends, it depends on regularity of change and context for change, if the context is business driven, this is highly likely to conflict with user experience, as uninitiated changes often confuse users. For example, this week the business wants to push service y, so service x is dropped to a less prominent position on a page. Unless there is a tangible connection to the user which prompts that change, you're going to struggle.

I understand that the question refers to the UX of URL query strings, but I think that the fundamental concept needs serious consideration.

As for URL variables, if a user searches for, or tries to navigate to your site (sans query string) what are they going to be presented with? Or can I just change the string and drastically alter the site.

I would favour server side templates instead. So the root URL is always current.

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