How to present URLs, website addresses & links

Posted 9 years, 6 months ago    0 comments

There are many ways to present a website address to the world, but which is the best way? Even a simple domain name, there are at least 5 different ways to present the address: 

  • http://www.wordjot.com/
  • http://www.wordjot.com
  • www.wordjot.com
  • WWW.WORDJOT.COM
  • wordjot.com

They all work, they all take you to the same place, so which is best to use? Let's run through a few different situations.

Physical Print

Summary: Write as www.wordjot.com

Displaying a website address in print may include business cards, newspaper advertisements, magazines or flyers. 

The key to links in  is to keep the address as short as possible so it's quick and easy to type. If you're going to be doing a lot of print  advertising, having a short domain to start with will make life much easier. If you've got a long address, consider buying a short one as well that can redirect to your proper address.

For print work don't include the http:// part. People just don't need to type it, and it may confuse. If you want to send people to a secure page ie. https://, or an FTP site, ie. ftp:// you're probably better to create a separate webpage as an intermediate step, or simply redirect users to the secure page.

What about the www bit? The main benefit of the www is it makes it obvious that the text is a domain name. If you're using a .com, that might be obvious enough so you can leave the www off.

All sites should work with and without the www bit, but some don't, so check your site does first. Ask your web developer to set up both if needed. Ideally one version will redirect to the other version.

Some domain names are unusual enough to really need the www, for example bla.st. By writing as www.bla.st it makes it more obvious the text is a web address.

Interestingly we've found even if you don't include the www in your print work, many users will type it anyway. Generally we include the www, as people expect it, and it makes things obvious.

TV and Radio

Summary: Write as www.wordjot.com

For both television and radio it's even more critical to have a short, and memorable website address. If you're running a tv or radio campaign and you already have a long website address, it may be worth buying a short domain specifically for the campaign. Domain names are only $10-30/year and can simply redirect to your proper website address.

Email & Chat

Summary: Write as http://www.wordjot.com/

The best way to write a domain in an email or chat application eg. skype is to use the full version including http://. eg. http://wordjot.com/

The reason is simple, by including the http:// these applications will automatically turn the link into a clickable link. Some applications are smart enough to see a .com and turn that into a link, but to play it safe include the full thing.

What about http://wordjot.com without the end slash? While it will work fine, your web server will need to redirect the user to the full address http://wordjot.com/, so to save a tiny amount of work on your server include it in the first place.

Also be careful how long your URL is, it must not wrap onto the next line at all. See below for more details.

On a website

If you're editing a website, perhaps through a content management system, it's important to create proper URLs, that link correctly. An ideal is as follows:

wordjot.com

Which in HTML code looks like this:

<a href="http://wordjot.com/">wordjot.com</a>

You don't need to display the http:// to the user, but the HTML link requires it to work. The www bit is optional, and can be left off to keep things short.

Case Sensitivity

It's well worth mentioning that the first part of a URL, ie. the domain name, is not case sensitive, while the second part however may or may not be, depending on the web server. 

If you're uploading files to a web server, we recommend keeping everything in lower case to make life simple.

When writing URLs be careful to keep them as given.

Extra Long URLs

If you've got to publish an extra long address, perhaps a link to a specific page deep in your site, it's worth using a URL shortening service. These services turn your painful to type URLs into a nice short address. eg:

http://promacblog.com/posts/tips-for-designers-how-to-present-urls-website-addresses-links/

could become:

http://tinyurl.com/6e9tmo

which you could write in an advertisement simply as:

tinyurl.com/6e9tmo

TinyURL is just one such service, and there are a number of others.

Shortening long addresses is essential for sending in email applications. If your address wraps onto the next line, often the automatic link generation may not work, splitting the address in two, and only linking to the first line.

Conclusion

Keep things as short as possible, and use the write format in the right situation. Generally offline use the format www.wordjot.com, and online use http://www.wordjot.com/. Hope that helps, leave any questions or comments below.




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