Friday, August 29, 2008

Updated Monday September 2

If you want to get a quick feel for how to write a URL that's confusing, unintuitive and nearly impossible to remember, look at the Web site addresses in the ads in your local Yellow Pages.

The Yellow Pages have just been delivered to our area (and many are languishing in the streets, orphans to the online and cellular revolutions that have eclipsed them.) Stuck on a corner with nothing to read the other day, I turned to them in desperation for entertainment and they obliged.

I wondered why these ads didn't use punctuation to make Web site addresses seem even a little bit more intelligible?

If you are going to include a URL in an ad (and it was interesting to see how many companies hadn't included theirs), why not make it memorable and easy
to recall?

Even a bit of punctuation (remember those things called capital letters?) helps.

Is there anyone who won't get confused by

Some of the ones that I tried to remember well enough to type in later (and failed) are below as they appeared in print:

  • ( No, )
  • ( No,
  • (AgentsElectrolysis? No. It was
  • (I am hair free! A great idea that doesn't really make the jump online)
  • (Does anyone ever remember what sort of dash to use a week later?)
  • (door on mobile shelving? No, with motto, "The Intelligent Use of Space." Not.
  • The idea to monopolize keywords for orders of sympathy flowers is probably smart, but all those letters with the VSF at the end makes me beg for someone to put me out of my misery!
  • ( I'd love more sun in my bedroom but no, it was Same URL, different idea.

These made me grateful for the handful of companies that had put a little thought into how the URL would look in print.

Hummer has consistent branding, all caps (big and blocklike like the vehicle.) And thank you for using some imagination and thinking about it sensibly. It bolds and uses caps to highlight the beginning of the words.

My advice: Go through your category and look at how your rivals present their URLS? Which ones do you remember accurately a few days later? Which ones stood out? Did any provide an incentive to visit? I didn't see one.

By the way, one of my favorite sites on this issue is GoodURLBadURL. It is full of great advice.

PS. Spotted this funny tagline in the YellowPages: Harvey Hottel plumbers' motto was "Double the PLEASURE, Double the PlUMBER"? Just what sort of services are they offering?

The image above is from Dishevelled Requiem from a student project to manipulate the Hummer logo.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power on Thursday August 28 at 5 p.m.



Mark said...

I totally agree - I was working with a client and they wanted to get the url for her edler residential care facility.

I didn't think it was a good idea to have Scare in the url when you are trying to provide a personal service like residential in-home care! So we changed it so there was no "Scare".

J. Hare said...

I once put some pages together for a psychoanalyst who first wanted the domain "" until I pointed out that calling himself "the rapist" might not be a good idea...

catsav said...

Umm... is a particularly amusing example.

Jack said...

Julie Power you are looking good. Your blog is aslo excellent. It's really informative. Keep it up.

Jeff Kent
Yahoo Store Design