Top 10 URL Design Failures of Famous Websites

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mona-lisa-caribb.jpg

Famous painting, image by caribb, but no clue in the URL: http://flickr.com/photos/caribb/2355878576/

Do you know what the New York Times, the World Bank, WordPress.com, PHP.net and others have in common?
Their URLs suck!

A few days ago my list of the top 10 fatal URL design mistakes has been hugely popular:

To prove how messed up URLs, these most important guiding units on the Internet, still are, I made a list of renown sites using completely inappropriate Internet addresses, directory and other URL structures.

You’ll be surprised to recognize some of the top 10 url design failures out there. I listed the examples accordingly to my original URL design mistakes list:

1. Bloomberg.com, renown news outlet: Session Ids (+ multiple random URLs for each page #5). Example: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aH5xJRoWZFOU&refer=home
Also try
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aH5xJRoWZFOU&refer=spam
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aHhgZh8jHAs02
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087

2. Inhabitat.com, Technorati Top 100 blog: Mangled apostrophes in URL (+ date based URLs for timeless information #9): http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/07/02/philippe-starck%E2%80%99s-designer-windmill-for-all/

3. Fox News, infamous war propaganda machine: Numbers instead of speaking URLs
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,308077,00.html
What’s wrong here? Consider the headline: “Pop Tarts: Angelina Freaks Out Seeing Herself Naked in ‘Beowulf,’ Calls Home to Explain”

4. PHP.net, homepage of the world’s most popular server side script language: Multiple canonical URLs
http://php.net/
http://www.php.net/
http://www.php.net/index.php
etc.

5. New York Times, most renown US newspaper: Too many parameters which also change randomly, this example is so horrible it mus be repeated.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/technology/27google.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=business&adxnnlx=1214553738-5Jvl01JfMCKLx5duMGRv9g&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
Also try:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/technology/27google.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&new-york-times-urls-suck
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/technology/27google.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/technology/27google.html

6. New York Times and multiple bloggers: Only one very broad and boring keyword in URL:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/technology/27google.html
If you’re eager to know what Google did on this date check out also this blog:
http://julielemonde.com/2008/06/27/google/
In fact you can find such intriguing URLs for almost any date.

7. World Health Organization (WHO): Too many useless subdirectories
http://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/country/arg/en/
Also make sure to check out the “killer” content of this page!

8. Universities: UUCP, Berkeley, UCN and the World Bank, the world’s most hated bank: Check out these Joomla! crap URLs, don’t they have some smart computer science students to fix that?
http://www.uccp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29
http://iurd.berkeley.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=173&Itemid=164
http://global.unc.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=75&Itemid=81

Remember those black clad anarchist in Seattle 1999? Yes, one of them apparently infiltrated the World Bank’s computer department to sabotage their URLs, this is one of the worst examples of URL crap:
http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:21828803~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

9. WordPress.com: Blog service and Smashing Magazine, Technorati top 10 blog:
Now tell me, is the date the most important and first to be seen info for this post here?
http://princessofsomething.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/where-the-heart-is/
Is this resource’s most important factor the the date when it was published, like it’s a 4th of July celebration or something?
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/07/04/web-form-design-patterns-sign-up-forms/
Also consider this article, would you still read it after seeing the date?
http://www.webpronews.com/insiderreports/2005/06/27/google-video-to-launch-video-playback-service

10. SEO 2.0, blog dominating the global SEO 2.0 market: Yes, I failed here recently when I renamed my categories
http://seo2.0.onreact.com/category/reputation-building/
This will result in an error. I could have used this WordPress SEO plugin instead to prevent this error.


So you see the Web is full of broken URLs and there must be much work done before this mess is cleaned up. In 2008 we still face even huge sites which get the most fundamental findability and SEO basics wrong.

These top 10 URL failures prove that point. Contact their webmasters and make them aware of these issues. they can save thousands of dollars or even lives in the case of the WHO.