Top 10 URL Design Failures of Famous Websites

A man's hand wearing a watch holds a smartohone to photograph the Mona Lisa in a crwoded Louvre museum in Paris. We barely see the painting on the small screen.

Famous painting, image by Fabrizio Verrecchia, but no clue in the URL:

Do you know what the websites of the

  • New York Times
  • World Bank

and others have in common? Their Internet addresses aka URLs suck!

Right from the start my list of the top 10 fatal URL design mistakes has been hugely popular. Yet I wanted to show people how wide-spread the issue is.

I decided to prove how messed up URLs – these most important guiding units on the Internet – still were.

Thus I made a list of renown sites using completely inappropriate Internet addresses, directory and other URL structures.

You’ll be surprised to recognize some of the top 10 url design failures out there. I listed the examples accordingly to my original URL design mistakes list:

1., renown news outlet: Session Ids (+ multiple random URLs for each page #5).


Also try

Luckily they fixed their address and directory structure by now. Sadly they forgot to move or redirect the existing links.

2., one of the most popular “green” blogs: mangled apostrophes in URL (+ date based URLs for timeless information #9):

3. Fox News, infamous war propaganda machine: Numbers instead of speaking URLs,2933,308077,00.html

What’s wrong here? Consider the headline: “Pop Tarts: Angelina Freaks Out Seeing Herself Naked in ‘Beowulf,’ Calls Home to Explain”

4., homepage of the world’s most popular server side script language: Multiple canonical URLs

5. New York Times, most renown US newspaper: Too many parameters which also change randomly, this example is so horrible it mus be repeated.

Also try:

6. New York Times: only one very broad and boring keyword in URL:

When you’re eager to know what Google did on this date check out the article!

In fact you can find such intriguing URLs for almost any date.

7. World Health Organization (WHO): Too many useless subdirectories
Also make sure to check out the “killer” content of this page!

8. Universities: UUCP, Berkeley, UCN and the World Bank, the world’s most hated bank: Check out these Joomla! crap URLs! Don’t they have some smart computer science students to fix that?

Remember those black clad anarchists in Seattle 1999? Yes, one of them apparently infiltrated the World Bank’s computer department to sabotage their URLs!

This is one of the worst examples of URL crap:,,contentMDK:21828803~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

9. Blog service and Smashing Magazine, Technorati top 10 blog:
Now tell me, is the date the most important and first to be seen info for this post here?

Is this resource’s most important factor the the date when it was published, like it’s a 4th of July celebration or something?
Also consider this article, would you still read it after seeing the date?

10. SEO 2.0, blog dominating the global SEO 2.0 market: Yes, I failed here when I renamed my categories using one word topics instead of the more exact keyword phrases:

This will result in an error. I could have used this WordPress SEO plugin instead to prevent this error.

You see the Web is full of broken URLs and there must be much work done before this mess is cleaned up.

In 2008 we still faced even huge sites which get the most fundamental findability and SEO basics wrong. A decade later some of the issues still persist.

These top 10 URL failures prove that point. Contact their webmasters and make them aware of these issues. they can save thousands of dollars or even lives in the case of the WHO.