Do you have a home page?

Funny I would ask .. you’re safe: I’m not stalking you @home. Winking smile 

The question still stands .. do you have a home page URL, or better still, at what point does a URL become unimportant?

Note that in the early 00s, URLs started showing up on TV advertising and on billboards .. the coming thing; the way to recognize if a company was with ‘it’. Nowadays, we know that companies own their web URLs as a part of their overall identity.

Answering the ‘unimportant’ question: it’s now. URLs are unimportant. These days, it’s all about browser-enabled search. The best part: we’re doing it without even realizing it.

My evidence? I know people (a lot of people .. many in the ‘John Q. Public’ realm) who do not have a home page set on their browser. This is interesting because any company that introduces you to a toolbar (or other related nonsense) tries to set your home page and search engine to their choice, instead of yours. Security note: Always be wary when clicking ‘next’ .. watch for any little checkboxes with logos or names you do not recognize.

Back to John (and Jane) Q. They’re pretty happy with no home page .. many pursue a ‘clean’ browser environment: one where the home page is set to ‘about:blank”, or they may simple erase whatever home page that opens when they open their browser. Either way, they still do a lot of work on the Web .. but unlike those with iPhones and thick clients, they are “app”-less, yet still getting done what needs to be done.

Here’s how: with modern browsers, the cursor is set to light up in the address bar by default. You can type anything you like there, not necessarily preceded by ‘http’, or ‘www’. Do you want to book a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles on Expedia? In the address bar, type ‘expedia’ (and not http://www.expedia.com). Better still: type “flights from seattle to los angeles” and press enter. If you do this, you’ll be presented with options. If the Expedia search engine optimizers have done their job, one of the links you can select is theirs.

Given this, why remember a URL at all? I’m sure you’ve heard that whitehouse.com is not the place where the President lives, nor will you find what you seek if you navigate to wikipedia.com (update: wikipedia.com now redirects properly to wikipedia.org; the linkbait site has been closed). Why not simply type the company name and look at the results? All the major search engines post ‘best bet’ (and sometimes, paid) results based on perceived intent:

  • Want Wal-Mart? Type “walmart”. Would you normally remember the hyphen? Returns http://www.walmart.com.
  • Want KMart? Type “kmart”. Was there, or wasn’t there a hyphen? Returns http://www.kmart.com.
  • Want Alaska Airlines? Type “alaska airlines”. Returns http://www.alaskaair.com. No hyphen and the delight of ‘air’ appended to Alaska.
    You get the drift .. type the company name into the address bar, and you’re golden. Many companies now sponsor their URLs on the search engines to ensure that entries that are ‘close enough’ will find them. Ditto for common words associated with their products.
    More aggressive companies will also attempt to sponsor the names of their competitors or competitors’ products in an effort to redirect search results to their own benefit. More on that in a future post, but suffice to say: it’s a naughty, competitive, webby world.
    All this said: do you have a home page? Do you need one?
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About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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