URL for mere mortals

A few days ago I bought a copy of the German magazine Der Spiegel. As you can see in the following image, the front-page headline prominently asks a question “Macht Das Internet Doof?” on the same wave length of Nick Carr’s Atlantic article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” which raised a lot of buzz.

Regardless of the content, what caught my attention was the way the reader is invited to join the online conversation. You could find, instead of incomprehensible links such as http://forum.spiegel.de/showthread.php?t=4813, a simple, clear and effective www.macht-das-internet-doof.de: just a redirect to the forum thread, good looking in print, easy to remember and probably search engine friendly too.

Nonetheless, many magazines and newspapers are a million light years away from this approach. The link – when present – spans multiple lines and often, it’s hard to decipher or even wrong. And, of course, it starts with http://. I think I’m very keen on these details because I worked 6 years for a publishing company, anyway, I’m not alone. Adam Darowski in his blog explains why a URL has to be considered an integral part of the user interface.

It’s not possible yet to click on a sheet of paper, so the URL has to be easy to type and to remember. There should be a reason why someone invented the DNS to translate to www.site.tld