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Nov 19

Not only are URLs special, but yours is too!

Mobile, Open Web, Tech Add comments

available on the app store

My last post discussed how special URLs are. They are loosely coupled strings of candyfloss and should be loved and respected.

Thus, a trend that I always makes me squirm is “sharecropping” (as Tantek would say) and not giving people your real address. You have all seen it:

  • A TV ad that ends showing facebook.com/toyota instead of toyota.com
  • A newpaper ad that just asks you to “follow” them with their Twitter URL
  • “Check in” on Foursquare
  • I was in a European airport that had billboards showing how to get info via their application that is “Available in the App Store”
  • Remember AOL keywords?

On many of these services you are only renting space. You are sending traffic to the host of the system and helping them with their Google juice. I understand how you think that the hip kids just want to go to your Facebook page, but why not send them to your own URL that can deliver an experience that makes sense for them?

You get a lot of benefit:

  • You are building your own SEO juice
  • You inviting the user to your own house, and can thus own the relationship
  • As a good host, you can choose the experience that you want to offer. For example, you can deliver an experience that makes sense for the given device AND what you have to offer.

This isn’t to say that you should tell the user where you are on the various services where they hang out.


I prototyped App Discover as a way to do the marriage between the users devices and what you have to offer. Hopefully sites will grow intelligence to give you an easy way to not keep telling you “download the app!” when you visit the site through your mobile device. The Delta mobile site throughs the above in your face, and since they have no way to query the system to check “hey, if the user has already installed the app, don’t bug him”, it bugs you. I always find it strange to open up the App Store itself and see it tell me about apps that I have already installed. Really? A lot of work to be done on discovery.

I think it is time to take some ownership of your URL, and treat it like a garden. Keep working on it.

2 Responses to “Not only are URLs special, but yours is too!”

  1. Dan Moore Says:

    Hi Dion,

    Great set of posts about URLs. I can understand why local small businesses use facebook/myspace/blogspot/etc as a hosting solution–the barriers to entry are so low. But I do feel that any larger company, as well as those small businesses, will benefit by controlling their own presence.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t leverage facebook, for example, because some of the community features and targetting are much richer there, but you should continually be sending people back to sites you control.

    For example, Facebook likes aren’t nearly as useful, and long lived, as email signups. Anyway, this may be a lesson people have to learn everytime a new platform comes along.

  2. Ted Mielczarek Says:

    Personally I hate it when I’m browsing the web and some site tries to convince me that what I *really* want to be doing is using their app. Why not just make your goddamn site not suck when used via a mobile web browser? Your app probably doesn’t do anything that you couldn’t do on a modern web page anyway.

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