DNS Lookup, Reverse DNS Lookup, Domain Configuration Check and IP Address Calculators

URL Design

What is URL Design

When designing a website the first thing you should do is think about the URLs. How will the URL paths be laid out? What extension will the pages have .html, .php, .do, .pl or no extension?

It's something that's easily overlooked and quite often it's something that evolves. But if you don't plan your URL stucture in the beginning, you'll probably end up changing the URL structure later on. Changing URLs after a website goes live always causes problems. Sites that link to yours will contain broken links, anyone who has bookmarked pages on your site will find the bookmarks are invalid, search engines will index pages that no longer exist and it might have a negative effect on your search engine rankings. Of course, you could use mod_rewrite to redirect old URLs to new URLs, but managing lots of redirects can be complex and messy, and there will come a point when old redirects will need to be deleted - which once again may cause broken links.

Designing URLs

So, what extension should your pages have. Usually you want to avoid tying your website to a particular technology. A URL that ends in .php will make it hard if you want to migrate your website to ASP. Using .html is one of the safer extensions as no matter what technology your website uses, all pages would usually be generating HTML. But the best option is not to have any extensions. This also hides the technology that your website uses - which is good for security.

Also think about the domain name and sub domains. You don't have to use a www sub domain, but people are familiar with websites beginning with www so it's a good idea to follow the tradition - at least for your homepage.

Next, think about the URL path structure. What structure will logically divide your site and allow for future expansion.

Newer web technologies like Ruby On Rails do a lot of the hard work of URL design for you. But you still need to plan your URL structure before your start!

Dynamic Pages

Dynamically generated pages may take parameters, like an article or knowledge base ID. In this situation you could use Apache's mod_rewrite engine to convert page names into URL parameters. This hides the URL parameters from the user - they only see a clean URL. The mod_rewrite engine can convert the last path element into a URL parameter of the previous path element.

For example, the user will see


But on the server the request gets transformed into


Key Points

Here are a few points to remember when designing URLs: