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When I see urls with one word (e.g., ux.stackexchange.com), I understand that this is the main page of the whole project, which explains the philosophy of whole project. It's like a "book cover." And bookmarking the page is equivalent to saving the project.

When I see a long url (e.g., ux.stackexchange.com/questions/97793/how-utm-long-urls-for-the-homepage-of-project-influence-on-user-experience) (imagine that I don't know about UTM keys) I subconsciously understand that it's an internal page. It's like "one of the pages in the book." And bookmarking the page is not saving the project; it's saving just one of the pages. In my mind the weight of this link is much smaller than one-word url.

Do you know any research/article on this topic? Are there any differences in human behaviour with single-word url and UTM'd url for a main website page? How many people will I lose (or not) if I use UTM for my domainname.com in different advertising posts?

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I would argue that the length of the URL does matter, for at least two reasons:

  1. There's SEO research all over the internet saying URL's should not exceed 67-75 characters, even though people tend to keep them below 100. (https://moz.com/blog/15-seo-best-practices-for-structuring-urls)

  2. Long URL's are unwieldy. It's easier to copy, paste and share a short URL with sensible words that reflect content of the article and without UTM's preferably.

  3. Last, but not least, short URL's are sexier. Not sure if that's backed by research.

Of course, you can't always use short ones.

  • also it is easier to share. The URL must be descriptive in this case. Look : ux.stackexchange.com/questions/97793/… with this I know where I will go by clicking on this link .. actually not because stackexchange has shortened it :D – Leths Nov 3 '16 at 15:22
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According to my understanding, the length of URL doesn't effect the user experience in any way. Anyone opening a website is concerned about what he is looking at or reading on that page, and if he wants to use that information again in future, they will bookmark the page. When you bookmark a page, there is an option for the name that you want to give to that particular bookmark, so its never a hurdle finding it again in the list of bookmarks as well.

  • for me it looks like on the video here: wistia.com/blog/fresh-url – Sviatoslav Aug 11 '16 at 7:57
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    I think this assumes (which may be correctly so) that there is a clickable link to this page. However, if the link is displayed somewhere without alink such as a printed ad or from the users own memory it may not be as easy. Not sure if that's in scope for the question though. – DasBeasto Nov 2 '16 at 15:20
  • Actually there is a population that uses URL to quickly get to a page by typing on it. I'm one of these guys so there is a public. You cannot just ignore it – Leths Nov 3 '16 at 15:21
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Yes, URL length and structure affects User Experience. Short and simple is good, but long and complex is not necessarily bad

A short, human-readable, logically labeled URL structure benefits a site in several ways, listed in this publication by the Nielson Norman Group, 'URL as UI'. (there are also non-UX (i.e. web crawler, site indexing benefits)

Another question here on UXSE "Is there evidence that users ever look to a website's URL as a breadcrumb for navigation?" doesn't show up any actual evidence, and to be honest, I don't think you're going to find that magic whitepaper that gives you information you want.

This is not exactly scientific, but I remember once reviewing an (unrelated) eye tracking study that noted various page elements the participants paid attention to and being surprised that most users hardly ever looked at the URL. Many people here will disagree, and say "I look at the URL all the time"

So I think is safe to summarize as follows:

  • Having a "user friendly" URL structure is a good idea, and if you can have one, you should
  • If it's not practical to have short and simple URLs (it can be tricky with some CMSes), it's not necessarily the end of the world

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