Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why things are complex

Do you want to get things done quickly, or do you want to get things done right?

And what is "right"?

Louis Gray shared this story of one of his early jobs:

[A]s I clicked through to the product page, something caught my eye. The page loaded as it should, but the URL structure was not what I'd expected. I anticipated that clicking on Products would lead to a clean URL like or at worst, Instead, the URL had an additional directory which looked like What was this "phonecube_site" deal?

Gray, who was a Web Marketing Manager at the time, was told by engineering that some of the site code was hard-coded, and any effort to make prettier URLs would delay the project. In stepped the Vice President of Marketing:

In response, my boss (the VP of Marketing) said that many popular Web sites on the Internet, with Amazon being the clearest example, had ugly URLs, and yet they were successful.

Gray lost that particular battle...and the war:

Since that time, URLs have clearly gotten uglier, and most folks have survived.

Don't believe me? When I initially went to Gray's website to read his post, I used the following URL:

And now I'm wondering why utm_medium is a lower-case "feed," which utm_campaign includes a "Feed" with an initial cap.

Presumably something was hard-coded and they couldn't change it.
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