Clean URLs

Clean URLs (or semantic URLs) are readable URLs for websites or web services that intuitively represent the underlying resource.

This typically means:

  • Omitting implementation details for the underlying web-server. The URL should not contain suffixes like .php or jsp that denote the underlying technology stack.

  • Putting key information in the path of the URL. Clean URLs only use the query string for ephemeral details, like tracking information. A user visiting the same URL without the query string should be taken to the same resource.

  • Avoiding opaque IDs. Clean URLs use human-readable slugs, which are often generated by stripping the page title of punctuation, converting it to lower case, and replacing spaces and punctuation with ‘-‘ characters.

An example of a clean URL is:

Notice how a lot of information can be gleaned about the meaning of the URL, since the slug (“slow-cooker-oats”) is human-readable. Contrast this with the following MSDN URL:

This URL tells us about the server software being used, but nothing about the contents of the page.

Advantages of Clean URLs
  • Clean URLs do not leak server information.
  • Clean URLs are less fragile, since they are explicitly mapped to an underlying resource.
  • Clean URLs are SEO friendly.
  • Clean URLs are generally more memorable (they have an intuitive meaning when viewed in browser history or when read aloud).
  • Clean URLs suggest an organization of data, making site navigation easier.