Which is Worst: the URL for IE7 Add-ons, Firefox Extensions, or Greasemonkey?

I am working on a project that had me was writing about browser plug-ins and I needed to link to the main page for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Add-ons, for Firefox’s Extensions, and lastly for Greasemonkey for Firefox

I actually looked up those three in opposite order than I have them listed above. Greasemonkey’s URL was pretty good although it’s a shame it’s not greasemonkey.com/.net/.org; the .com resolves to a 403 forbidden page, the .org resolves to a list of advertising links, and the .net resolves to Grease Monkey International, a franchiser of automotive preventive maintenance centers! Whatever the case, I feel pretty good that this URL is going to have really good persistence. It should be around at least as long a Greasemonkey is relevant if for no other reason than to return a 301:

http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/

The second URL for Firefox extensions was not so good, but I still think there a pretty good chance it will still resolve a year from now:

https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions.php?app=firefox

Then there is Microsoft’s horrific URL for Internet Explorer Add-ons.  What were they thinking?  I’ll bet this URL doesn’t resolve three months from now let alone in a year of five:

http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/category.aspx?bcatid=834&tabid=1&WT.mc_id=0107_20

URLs like this one from Microsoft are a crying shame. Sadly, Microsoft is one of the few companies that can get away with this without be negatively affected. On the other hand, most companies haven’t a clue how bad URLs like this can affect them.

That said, I’d love to get your input:

  1. Why is Microsoft’s URL so bad?  Help me find and explain all the reasons why companies should care not to be so careless when designing their URLs. Why is it bad for users, and why is it bad for Microsoft?
  2. Design the Ideal URLs. Assume you have no constraints at all – no badly designed content management system and no inflexible server technology — and suggest the ideal URL for each of the above three resources. Heck,  you can even change domain names if you want to. So what would be the best URLs for each of the three above?

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8 Responses to Which is Worst: the URL for IE7 Add-ons, Firefox Extensions, or Greasemonkey?

  1. AdamD says:

    greasemonkey.com
    firefox.com/extensions/
    microsoft.com/ie/addons/

  2. Brad Fults says:

    I agree with AdamD with a small addendum for the Firefox Extensions URL:

    The Mozilla Corporation sells a product named Firefox. They own firefox.com, but redirect it to mozilla.com/products/firefox/. That said, given Mozilla’s strategy with respect to add-ons, it would probably make sense for firefox.com/extensions/ redirect to addons.mozilla.org/extensions/firefox/ and for mozilla.com/products/firefox/extensions/ to also redirect to addons.mozilla.org/extensions/firefox/.

    This brings up the larger issues around company-centric and product-centric URL design, a very interesting topic with no real consensus that I know about.

  3. Thanks for the comment Adam. In hindsight, I guess that was too easy. :)

    Anyone got anything else?

  4. Thanks Brad.

    By suggesting redirects you’ve touched on an area I’ve been researching for a while and I’m currently of the opinion that it is not a good idea to use redirects as doorways to complex URLs. Sure it’s okay as a bandaid over top of a poorly architected website, but it IMO it probably points to poor information architecture.

    I’d far prefer *not* to see redirects used to hide complex URLs. I think redirects are primarily to indicate resources have been moved during a rearchitecture. I’m sure there are contexts where the redirect approach you suggest might be the best architectural choice but I’m not currently aware of one I agree with.

    In the case as you mentioned above, all URLs (firefox.com/extensions/, addons.mozilla.org/extensions/firefox/, and mozilla.com/products/firefox/extensions/) each providing a resource appropriate to the context likely with some shared information but not identical.

    Regarding your comment’s regarding company-centric and product-centric URL Design, they are dead-on and that’s a subject I’m anxious to tackle in the future too!

    Thanks again for participating.

  5. Gareth says:

    Nearly completely agree.

    On the Microoft one the WT.mc_id=0107_20 portion is added automagically by the analytics package WebTrends if it’s configured to pass the id in the querystring (which means it gets everyone, including those without cookies). The tabid portion is also not required in this case, it seems to be a CMS thing which defaults to 1 is removed (and most of the pages I saw just used 1). So you could have:

    http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/category.aspx?bcatid=834

    Which is basically the same as the firefox one except for a human unfriendly parameter name and value.

  6. JackyMooll says:

    Who can help me with .httpaccess ?
    where i can fined full information about .httpaccess file syntaxis?

  7. HP says:

    I read this on HPs driver downloads site:

    In an effort to provide the best possible customer experience, this page has been removed.

    And no – there were no links on it to any of the missing downloads, nor can the site be searched – google was the only thing that found them again…

  8. Morbus says:

    Too late, too late, but firefox’s addons site is called AMO for something:

    addons.mozilla.org

    Remember AMO, remember it all.

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