2

I have found many sources stating that the URL structure is important as it helps users understand what the page is about, but so far no data about it. Do you know about any experiments run (A/B testing, surveys, eye tracking tests...) which provide some data as to:

  • Percentage of people that actually look at the URLs?
  • Of does who do, percentage of people that actually get influenced by it (I'm not talking about people who think the URL might look a bit weird but carry on with their browsing, but for instance those who will immediately leave the page, and if that happens on may pages, just stop visiting a given site...)?
  • What are the key qualitative aspects of what people consider to be a "good" URL (is it length, the fact that the key word they have in mind appears early, the fact that /the-URL-is nicely-readable vs /just/succession/paths) ?
  • 1
    This post may be useful. I would say that URLs are for people, not for computers. Otherwise they wouldn't be a visible part of the User Interface. – JonW Apr 30 '14 at 9:20
  • Thanks but I've seen countless of these posts saying it's better and suggesting how to structure URLs, but no data showing what impact this has on UX. I know it's meant for users, but it doesn't mean people use it (I personally do, in fact that's the first thing I do because I work in the field of SEO/Web and I'm obsessed about URLs, but I know other people just don't, i.e. I watched my mom browsed, she never looks at it, she just has an icon on the desktop for IE, opens it up, types something in the search, and then just clicks on links without ever looking at the address bar). – Max Apr 30 '14 at 9:24
  • 1
    Between the choices of making something human readable vs. not, when there is no real argument for the latter, wouldn't the former always be better? Do we really need studies for that? – DA01 Apr 30 '14 at 22:10
  • @DA01: in my business environment we do: it's all about ROI. Due to size and complexity of website, changing the URL structure will cost money, and if we can't prove it will increase revenue enough, then management will use that money to fund other projects which higher return potentials. – Max May 1 '14 at 7:00
  • 2
    Related question: Percentage of users who edit the URL of the site they're on? – unor May 1 '14 at 16:39
1

"A usable site requires: a domain name that is easy to remember and easy to spell, short URLs, easy-to-type URLs, URLs that visualize the site structure, URLs that are "hackable" to allow users to move to higher levels of the IA by hacking off the end of the URL" - Jakob Nielsen, March 21, 1999

While being an old quote, I think that about sums it up the third part of your question ("key qualitative aspects of what people consider to be a 'good' URL").

My personal add on though is that you should always have breadcrumbs and visible navigation that allows users to do all of the above without touching the URL unless you're going for an unconventional website that doesn't have a visible navigation and instead uses something like gestures to navigate.

After much traversing of the web I couldn't find any hard solid STUDIES that have been done to prove that readable URLs add any benefits sadly. I hope someone else has better luck/skills in finding studies than I do!

Source: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/url-as-ui/

  • 1
    Love this comment from the original 1999 post: "It is likely that domain names only have 3-5 years left as a major way of finding sites on the Web." Yeah, so much for that. But the more recent linked studies in the updates seem relevant for backing up the rest of the conclusions. Certainly, they match my own behaviour: Not only do I pay attention to URLs in search results, but I often hover over a link to see the URL before following it, and I prefer a URL that includes the title of the target page over one with a random page id. – AmeliaBR May 3 '14 at 17:33
  • @AmeliaBR I would tend to think that you are the exception, not the rule. – Chris Aplin Aug 29 '14 at 0:18
  • @AmeliaBR - I actually do the same thing when looking at search results. When I'm browsing a site I don't find myself looking at the URL much, but the URL is a huge clue when you're searching. If I search "help with linksys router" and I see multiple links from Linksys but one includes "FAQ" or "support" in the URL I know that it's more likely to have what I need than something like "product" or "sales". – John S Dec 29 '14 at 21:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.