Freelance Digital Specialist at Self Employed
13 March 2008 09:40am
We are trying to understand if there is any evidence that the URL structure of a website affects or aids the user journey through a website.
Do users (other than web experts) actually glance up there to see where they are? Apart from the SEO benefits of a good URL string is there any evidence or research of navigation improvements?
Does anyone know of any studies in this area?
Freelance Web Consultant at architxt.net
13 March 2008 13:32pm
It's a bit old - 1990 - but this is interesting:
Update added 2007: Edward Cutrell and Zhiwei Guan from Microsoft Research have conducted an eyetracking study of search engine use that found that people spend 24% of their gaze time looking at the URLs in the search results.
Multichannel Strategy Director at Specialist Holidays Group - TUI Travel
20 March 2008 13:06pm
It's easy to dismiss the URL as "unimportant" but certainly I have seen many user tests where people use the browser status bar to understand whether the link they are hovering over will direct them to the page they want, based on the URL of that link.
The URL is certainly not a primary nav device but in the abstract navigation space of the web, all reinforcements of context and location help users to build a mental model of the space they are in and therefore how they can navigate to get what they want.
Summary - I would recommend having an understandable URL structure than not have one. However as you say the benefits of doing this are primarily based around SEO than usability as such.
CEO at Econsultancy
25 March 2008 10:38am
As the others have pointed out, I think that the URL structure once the user is on your site is somewhat less important - they shouldn't really need to resort to looking at this if your usability is good. However, it certainly does no harm to make it logical and intelligible.
However, as David points out, it is very important off your site in the 'context of the web'.
You might want to read my post on "URL naming rules" - in fact have a look through that whole thread as there is some good stuff and some useful links in there.
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