The new "in" thing for web development: get rid of the query string
After I commented yesterday about MSNBC.com's site redesign, Robert McLaws had the wisdom to point out that the site's URLs are now in the following format: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3695726/, making each story look like its own subdirectory.
In similar fashion, I've also taken note that Steve Smith at ASPAlliance also recently migrated his site's URL convention, lopping off the query string for user-submitted articles: http://aspalliance.com/324
After having migrated my own site to ASP.NET, I now use a convention that MSNBC previously used, employing my database’s ID field as the disguised filename: http://www.kuam.com/news/3457.aspx. The facilities within ASP.NET for handling dynamically rewriting a path (namely, the RewitePath() method) make pulling this off incredibly easy.
This draws to light a new theme that seems to be popping up more and more within the web development community, in particular from ASP.NET-driven sites: ridding oneself of the query string. It would appear that site designers are now considering the cosmetic appeal of a URL as part of the site's total usability, and an Internet address' psychological effect on the user.
Perhaps this infers that a user's thought pattern might be that if a URL is messy and complex, the site will be, too?
It seems that people are finally catching on to a principle that as a marketing guy, I've held since the first day I saw it: that query string-based URLs are really ugly. Using one or more appended name/value pairs in a site's URL is incredibly hard to remember, and the values that were once extracted can now be accessed and persisted in other places just as well (Cache API, Session, ViewState). I recall how people flocked to adding query string values to their URLs circa 1997 - whether they really needed them, or not - just to look advanced, shying away from plain 'ol “/directory/filename.html”.
Apparently, people are starting to realize the promotional potential and KISS charm in simple page addressing schemes. Good to see.