Things I like in a website

There are a couple of things that I really like in a website. Neither of them really matters that much but they make me feel like I'm dealing with a nice, simple, easy-to-use website. Like Facebook, c. 2004. Or like Facebook now, except the exact opposite.

  1. A favicon. For those unfamiliar, it's the little 16x16 or so image that shows up next to the address bar and on the tab next to the page title. I think everyone picks up on visual cues a lot more than they realize, so it's much easier to find the tab or page you want when there's a colorful, simple, icon by it. Plus, it means my bookmarks bar can look like this:

    Bonus question 1: How many of these favicons do you recognize? Bonus question 2: Many of these favicons are letters. How can I rearrange them to spell something funny? Other than "WTF" which I already have.
  2. Simple URLs. The example which inspired me to write this is my friends Casey and DJ's new site for scientists, CoLab. The address for someone's profile is, for example, http://www.thisiscolab.org/researchers/profile/caseystark/, rather than http://www.thisiscolab.org/photo.php?pid=958307&id=1017661724&fbid=1313519230881#profile.php/?pid=238924769803?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_content=Google+Reader&feature=related. I don't know why but why I see lots of extraneous characters that don't mean much to me, in a URL, it gives me the sense that the site is overly complicated, was built without a simple. clear focus, and is going to break at any moment. Also, what with Twitter being all the rage nowadays, it's nice to have a reasonable chance at fitting a URL into a tweet without using a shortener. Even if you do have to shorten a URL, we put an extra strain on the URL shortening services when we try to shorten multiple copies of the same URL which don't look identical but actually are. For example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno&feature=channel are exactly the same video, even though the URL is superficially different. Maybe I'm just being a little obsessive, but it's something I always notice.