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Capital Letters (Pascal Casing) in URLs - Advantages and Disadvantages
dailypress

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3651999 posted 5:24 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I noticed CNN uses some capital letters and sometimes whole words in capital in their URL. Here is what I thought of the advantages and disadvantages and please feel free to share some more ideas.

The advantages:

  • You make the word stand out
  • Some search engines might put more emphasis on those words

    The disadvantages:

  • It makes it more difficult for users to type in the URL or suggest the link via phone.
  • It may confuse users, making them think URL’s like domains are not case sensitive at all.
  •  

    webing

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:04 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    i thought urls were not case sensitive? i just tried my domain name in capital letters and it redirected me to the non capital letters so i do think domains are not case sensitive. sorry if i'm completly wrong ^^.

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:10 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    You know, its funny you should start this topic. I was just getting ready to do a full blown topic on Pascal Casing and "visual" marketing advantages.

    I started a topic back in 2007 September here...

    Domain Names and Pascal Casing
    [webmasterworld.com...]

    No, domain names are not case sensitive. These past 12 months I've been on a mission and changing everything to Pascal Casing when it comes to domain names. Its much easier to read and separate words and it just looks nicer.

    I've been experimenting with this and it works. Google AdWords is a great place to test the effectiveness of Pascal Casing.

    What's really cool is that you can literally change your hard coded references to Pascal Casing and when you hover over them, they show lower case. Its a browser feature I guess. I never gave it much thought until this past year when I started my changes.

    I've also gone one step further and use Pascal Casing in full addresses. We have a rewrite in place that forces lower case so we can do pretty much whatever we want with the URI and file naming.

    [edited by: pageoneresults at 6:11 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

    tedster

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:11 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    The domain name is not case sensitive. But the rest of the url - the file path - definitely is. One big downside to using mixed case in the filepath is that you can easily get multiple urls indexed that point to the same content, just because of case differences.

    This issue is discussed in our Hot Topics [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page. Look in the Duplicate Content section.

    [edited by: tedster at 6:12 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

    g1smd

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:12 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    IIS will serve the same content whatever case you use. That can cause you to have Duplicate Content problems: all versions serve up as "200 OK".

    Apache IS case sensitive. Wrong case should give "Error 404". If you want, you can set up a 301 redirect to redirect to the correct case, so that you don't lose the traffic. Personally I don't bother. There are more important Duplicate Content and canonicalisation issues to be fixed first.

    If you stick with all-lower-case for valid URLs you'll never hit the problem of miscommunication.

    I always avoid mixed-case URLs.

    Domain name is always case insensitive. What we are talking about here is folder and file names.

    [edited by: g1smd at 6:14 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:14 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Generally-speaking, a hostname (e.g. www.example.com) can be considered case insensitive. Filenames are more complicated - according to the spec, they are case sensitive, although there are high profile web server implementations where are case insensitive (most prominently Microsoft's IIS server).

    I always opt for lower case since I feel that:

    - Mixed case may harm ease of typing; users may be unsure as to what is correct, and the shift key is an extra keypress, after all
    - Anything other than all lowercase always seems to end in inconsistency: authors don't know what the rules are. For instance, should 'and' be capitalised?

    You could make an argument for increased legibility though, I guess.

    I go for lowercase, and on Apache servers it's nice to use something like mod_speling to catch any users who might capitalise parts of filenames.

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:18 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Mixed case may harm ease of typing; users may be unsure as to what is correct, and the shift key is an extra keypress, after all.

    Ya know, I thought that way for the longest time too. And then I saw how that type of person would enter a web address into their default search box so I'm not too worried about them. ;)

    Anything other than all lowercase always seems to end in inconsistency: authors don't know what the rules are. For instance, should 'and' be capitalised?

    Only if it is in the actual name. The "and" is a tough one and breaks the visual of Pascal Casing.

    This...

    WebmasterWorld.com

    Looks much nicer than this...

    www.webmasterworld.com

    Doesn't it?

    [edited by: pageoneresults at 6:20 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

    webing

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:20 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    oh i see. i www.example.com/ExAmPlE will be the same as WWW.EXAMPLE.COM/ExAmPlE but not the same as www.example.com/example.

    thanks for the info.

    dailypress

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:21 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    case of point:

    i thought urls were not case sensitive? i just tried my domain name in capital letters and it redirected me to the non capital letters so i do think domains are not case sensitive. sorry if i'm completly wrong ^^.

    as mentioned:

    It may confuse users, making them think URL’s like domains are not case sensitive at all.

    Domains are not case sensitive, but the rest of the URL is.

    dailypress

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:30 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    I personally use Pascal Casing for my logo which consists of few words, to make the keywords easier to read and nicer to look as "pageoneresults" says.

    All my directories are lower case but my files aren't.

    I think that will change from now on! :)

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:33 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    If you've got a 301 in place to redirect non-www requests to www and, if you have a "force lower case" rule in place, you can do all sorts of neat stuff.

    www.WebmasterWorld.com

    Now becomes...

    WebmasterWorld.com

    A little less (-www) and we get right to the brand, no www to trek through. :)

    Pascal Casing is my new mantra...

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 6:34 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld.com

    Looks much nicer than this...

    www.webmasterworld.com

    Doesn't it?

    Hehe, that depends ;)

    The first looks to me like a name, whereas the second looks like a URL.

    But the domain name is less of an issue, since mixed-case hostnames will not stop a user from reaching a URL. But mixed-case filenames often will. WebmasterWorld.com is fine, but WebmasterWorld.com/Google/ is an error page.

    In a case-insensitive world, you could brand URLs however you liked and not have any problem. The W3C and search engines opted for case sensitivity, and so most sites will return errors if you change letter casing. At a minimum, if you perceive an advantage in mixed-case filenames you need to account for usage of incorrect letter casing since you're likely teaching users to use whatever case they like.

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 7:00 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    At a minimum, if you perceive an advantage in mixed-case filenames you need to account for usage of incorrect letter casing since you're likely teaching users to use whatever case they like.

    Absolutely! Hence my comments about making sure you have a rewrite in place to force lower case if you decide to do Pascal Casing in the file naming conventions. Once you have the technical issues addressed, you can Pascal to your heart's content.

    So, let me ask this, do you think Google AdWords Display URIs get scraped "as they are" with the Pascal Casing and all?

    And, why must I continue to do what everyone else is doing? Yes, the RFC specifies case sensitivity, great. Since I can accommodate that case sensitivity, why can't I be different and make my URIs stand out from others? Huh? Huh? Huh? ;)

    WebmasterWorld.com/Google/

    vs

    www.webmasterworld.com/google/

    Which of the above two are your eyes drawn too first?

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 7:09 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    why can't I be different and make my URIs stand out from others? Huh? Huh? Huh?

    It's OK! You can be different PoR ;)

    Although perhaps not that different: /Provider/Style/URI [w3.org] :P

    I'll go for a compromise: if you have full control over sites and servers you work with, and understand how to combat any potential issues, then use whatever case you feel most comfortable with. Unfortunately, a lot of (most?) sites have either technical or editorial limitations, and that makes lower-case filenames the safest choice.

    As for display URLs - I know I've copied and pasted a few in mixed case that led to 404s ;)

    [edited by: Receptional_Andy at 7:10 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 7:14 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    You did notice that the URI you posted as a reference is forcing Pascal Casing, don't ya? ;)

    [w3.org...]

    And to top it off, they are using Content Negotiation. I like them!

    Also, if you start "hacking" that URI, take a look at what they've got set up, that's cool!

    [w3.org...]
    [w3.org...]
    [w3.org...]

    Talk about a subtle way to get multiple documents indexed from URI typos. And, the referring page gets a little play in the process. :)

    [edited by: pageoneresults at 7:18 pm (utc) on May 16, 2008]

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 7:18 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    You did notice that the URI you posted as a reference is forcing Pascal Casing, don't ya

    That's why I was saying "perhaps not that different:" ;)

    Still, what's the line from that page: "do what I say, not what I do." ;)

    Which of the above two are your eyes drawn too first?

    Heh, I'm not a good sample for that question - I skip over the first one since the casing is a spam trigger. I'm in no way representative with that though!

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 9:11 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Another area that Pascal Casing comes into play are email addresses. I'm finding it much more pleasing to the eye when email addresses are formatted like this...

    FirstnameLastname@Example.com

    ...as opposed to this...

    firstnamelastname@example.com

    Also, the Pascal Casing prevents some of those "mishaps" that occur when certain letters line up and create other words that may not be in the best interest of your branding efforts. :)

    The first looks to me like a name, whereas the second looks like a URL.

    Branding at its best!

    g1smd

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 9:18 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    All parts of an email address are case-insensitive, by design.

    To me, that's a different case to a website URL.

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 9:21 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    All parts of an email address are case-insensitive, by design.

    Tell that to the millions of AOL and MSN users who swear that their email must be in proper case format. :)

    For consistency purposes though, the Pascal Casing in the URI will of course naturally transition to email addresses at which time the casing of names would be addressed to be consistent with the URI.

    The first looks to me like a name, whereas the second looks like a URL.

    My little experiment worked like a charm! Definitely Branding at its best!

    tedster

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 9:32 pm on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Spoken like a true marketer, but not exactly like a coder ;)

    Oliver Henniges

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 8:08 am on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    If you apply pascal-casing consistently: Shouldn't it be WebmasterWorld.Com instead of WebmasterWorld.com?

    What about WebMasterWorld?

    IMHO it looks particularly ugly, if you decided the canonical issue PRO www: www.MyDomain.com? Www.MyDomain.Com? And you can never get rid of the .com with branding.

    I paticipate in some forums where pascal-casing in normal Texting (eg. NonFood) is viewed very bad style.

    A bit OT: More than once my hair went grey, when some scripts developed locally on my windows-XP-apache server were named with pascal-casing, whereas I used small letters in the php-include command. It worked on XP, but failed on my linux-based-server. Often took me hours to find the reason. Are there any means to define this differently in httpd.conf or .htaccess?

    Hobbs

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member hobbs us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 9:53 am on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Some search engines might put more emphasis on those words

    Can anyone confirm that as a fact?

    httpwebwitch

    WebmasterWorld Administrator httpwebwitch us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 12:43 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Pascal Casing is my new mantra...

    Someone please confiscate his shift key. Return it when he has learned to use it responsibly! heh heh

    Pascal casing is too arbitrary for my taste; WebMasterWorld or WebmasterWorld is a perfect example. But I think as long as your pages have only one canonical spelling (regardless of case), then you can use redirection to sculpt your file path into PascalCase, camelCase, lowercase, UPPERCASE, StuDlycAps, or whatever you want. I stick to all-lower case for everything, and I believe I'm a happier person as a result.

    If you have different content at PageOne.html and pageOne.html, well then you're just asking for trouble, aren't cha.

    W3C's URI pages are a cute example using a 300 status header, though the average person will see the title of that page and think "300 choices? I only see 3 here. Where are the other 297?". Status 300 is a disambiguation page... No wikis (a logical place to use a 300 header) I've ever dealt with use them properly, AFAIK the W3C is the only site on the entire www that has ever employed a 300.

    I'd have preferred a Permanent 301 to the canonical URI.

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 12:59 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    AFAIK the W3C is the only site on the entire www that has ever employed a 300

    There's quite a few out there. Most sites with Multiviews enabled will throw up a few of these, and they also get indexed:

    [google.com...]

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 1:02 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Most sites with Multiviews enabled will throw up a few of these, and they also get indexed.

    Oh darn, the secret is out! Now we're going to see a new round of 300 spamming if it already isn't happening. ;)

    I'm surprised to see so many of you against Pascal Casing, especially the "geeky" types. Programmers use it all the time, don't they? I mean, I see casing being used quite a bit in programming languages.

    Remember, you don't have to change anything in the HTML, you can do this all from a visual perspective as long as you have the technical foundation to support it. And, if I can do it on Windows, you know what that means, "Anyone can do it!"

    You guys/gals convinced me to keep my www a while back...

    No More WWW
    [WebmasterWorld.com...]

    But, I don't think I'm going to give in on this one. ;)

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 2:13 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Definitely Branding at its best!

    Branding, perhaps, but I don't think you could say "at it's best" since a major sacrifice is consistency; something a lot of brands feel is very important.

    Oliver Henniges pointed out the possibility of WebmasterWorld.Com vs WebMasterWorld.com vs Www.WebmasterWorld.com and all the other variations. It's impossible that you would arrive at any level of consistency across multiple users with this approach, except with lengthy rules regarding casing of subdomains, second level domains, acronyms, etc.

    Personally, I'd prefer users to know instantly that ExampleBrand is a brand name and www.examplebrand.com is a URL. I think this outweighs the potentially for increased visual appeal. And hey, we've got anchor text in any case, so that browsing the web doesn't involve a lot of reading of URLs.

    [edited by: Receptional_Andy at 2:14 pm (utc) on May 18, 2008]

    jdMorgan

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 2:38 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    > as long as you have the technical foundation to support [mixed-casing].

    That's a critically-important "if". Webmasters with sites on shared Apache servers will do well to avoid mixing case; It is horribly-inefficient to try to correct casing errors if you are limited to .htaccess configuration options only. MultiViews (content negotiation) are sometimes helpful, but sometimes not; They can interfere (fatally) with mod_rewrite rules already in place.

    So, if you have full control over your server, feel free to implement this mixed-casing if the marketing aspects are appealing to you. If not, proceed with caution, and test completely before committing to this approach. Marketing is one thing, but a very slow and inefficient site is another...

    Jim

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 2:42 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Branding, perhaps, but I don't think you could say "at it's best" since a major sacrifice is consistency; something a lot of brands feel is very important.

    But, if we go back to the OP and what brought this topic up...

    I noticed CNN uses some capital letters and sometimes whole words in capital in their URL.

    Isn't CNN one of those "important brands"?

    And hey, we've got anchor text in any case, so that browsing the web doesn't involve a lot of reading of URLs.

    Ever print out a topic from WebmasterWorld? Or, from any other resource that follows the "standard practice"? That's why you'll see me do this...

    Capital Letters (Pascal Casing) in URLs - Advantages and Disadvantages
    [WebmasterWorld.com...]

    As opposed to this...

    Capital Letters (Pascal Casing) in URLs - Advantages and Disadvantages [webmasterworld.com]

    That's just one example.

    So, if you have full control over your server, feel free to implement this mixed-casing if the marketing aspects are appealing to you. If not, proceed with caution, and test completely before committing to this approach. Marketing is one thing, but a very slow and inefficient site is another.

    You can keep it strictly visual and not change anything in the HTML.

    For the average Internet Surfer, I do believe the PascalCasing assists with URI readability. Look at Google AdWords...

    [edited by: pageoneresults at 2:53 pm (utc) on May 18, 2008]

    Receptional Andy



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 2:52 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    CNN are probably not a good example, since their URLs are neither user-friendly, legible or pretty. They use an odd mix of SHOUTING, Proper Case, lower case and numbers and technical indetifiers. And they break if you change letter casing. Frankly, I think this is just what their CMS has left them with, rather than it being an actual choice.

    And besides, CNN in Pascal Case is Cnn ;)

    I accept that there is an arguable difference for a brand name in a hostname and a filename itself.

    Ever print out a topic

    We're a bit off topic now I guess, but for print, you are forced to write out full URLs since otherwise users could never navigate back to the source of the article. IMO if it's a webpage, URLs should not generally be used as the text for a link. They usually appear because better link text has not been written, or as an aid to usability, in addition to (but not instead of) a usefully-written link.

    pageoneresults

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3651999 posted 3:02 pm on May 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

    We're a bit off topic now I guess, but for print...

    Actually we're not. This is part of the "trickle" down effect of some cons vs pros.

    The printing of a WebmasterWorld topic is just "one" example. I know, it's such a trivial thing in this instance but, I printed that page just to get a "visual" and as I was reading, of course the PascalCasing instances were easy to decipher. Those that were not I had to double take and separate the words in the domain name.

    Since domain names are not case sensitive, where is the harm in at least PascalCasing the domain name itself? Other than those who think that they have to type it using proper case?

    IMO if it's a webpage, URLs should not generally be used as the text for a link. They usually appear because better link text has not been written.

    From my perspective, I don't think that would be in "my" best interests all the time. There is a reason why you may not want to link the anchor text and provide a full URI reference in addition to that text. I feel there is still an "association" that takes place.

    Here's another example of where providing linked anchor text creates challenges after the fact. Go back and pull up some of your older emails in Outlook. If you are running NIS, there is some sort of routine that takes place and delinks all anchor text in the process so you are left with no links. :(

    This 40 message thread spans 2 pages: 40 ( [1] 2 > >
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