This post was published in February 2011, so the information in the post or about me in the sidebar may no longer be correct.

Everything should be a permalink

I received this by email, from somebody trying to plan when to book a train journey:

Gmail screenshot,

This illustrates something that’s become really clear to me since I started work: people don’t get links. Being able to quickly dissect a link is something I (and, I suspect, most geeks) have definitely taken for granted.

The solution is pretty clear: at any point in your app, a user should be able to copy the URL and share that exact screen with anybody who should have access.

I’d change that ticket-booking link to be something link:



By Chris Northwood on 01 February 2011 at 21:56:

Surely the issue here is that it’s a bad app design (perhaps the information was POSTed, or perhaps it’s all being saved in a session cookie serverside) which prevents this from working. Even us geeks get caught out sometimes - some sites have pretty horrendous, undecipherable URLs which turn out to be a reference to a session that expires or is somehow invalidated.

By Vanderdecken on 02 February 2011 at 01:55:

Wholeheartedly agree. “Being able to quickly dissect a link is something I have definitely taken for granted.” - I think this all the time. The structure and parameters of a URL seem so clear to me, but I guess I’m good at finding patterns and codings like that - I can not only split up the parts, but also tell what they do - so for example to shorten a Facebook URL, with a little trial and error I can remove the parts that are superfluous when linking somebody else to a post or photo, such as the little click-journey-tracking hierarchies that get added on (or used to, remember their silly /#!/ structure?).

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