Over the last few weeks I have received quite a few e-mails asking the same question; ‘when I publish my iWeb site to the Internet, why does the URL (or web address) appear so long in the browser’s address bar?’ Rather than keep typing the same answer I thought I would write a post explaining how and why this happens with your iWeb site and what, if anything you can do to avoid it.
To begin with I think it is important to remember what iWeb is designed to do. Let’s face it, we’re not going to design the next Google or Amazon with it. Apple’s site says:
Design a website to share your photos, movies, and music just by dragging and dropping. Add new dynamic widgets and publish and share with a click.
So we are not expecting miracles here. And this must apply to the URL of an iWeb site too.
When a ‘normal’ web designer builds a site he would first create a folder. Within that folder there would/should/could be several other folders named something along the lines of ‘images’, ‘scripts’ and ‘css’.
Also within that folder are all of the pages within the site (although if there are many pages these too may be put into organized folders) and one of which will nearly always be called ‘index.html’
When that web designer then publishes the site to the www the entire contents of that folder are uploaded to his/her web space so that when a user enters the URL into their web browser the first page to load up is ‘index.html’. This page is of course linked to all of the other pages within the site which all rest within the same folder (or at the same level on the server).
This means that the URL of this site would look like ‘http://www.domainname.com/index.html’ or http://www.domainname.com/about.html’.
When you build a site in iWeb however, it creates a site completely differently. Yes iWeb creates a page called index.html but only to tell the browser that is displaying your site that the first page is called ‘Welcome’ (for example) and that it exists in a folder one level down (and given the same name as your site).
This is why your iWeb sites URL will therefore look something like ‘http://www.domainname.com/foldername/welcome.html’ or ‘http://www.domainname.com/foldername/about_us.html’.
Going back to that ‘normal’ web designer. As a rule (and to make things easier for him/herself) there would only be a need for one, maybe 2 CSS style-sheets. These would be kept in the CSS folder within the main folder and each page would be linked to these CSS style-sheets from within the page’s header tags.
iWeb however creates an individual folder for each page you create and also creates a separate CSS style-sheet within that page’s folder. These page folders also contain the page’s images and any extra scripts that you may be using. This goes someway to explaining why your iWeb sites will load slower than a ‘regular’ site because in effect a browser thinks that each page is in fact a new site. In the image below, which is taken from my themesforiweb site you can see all of the individual pages and the relevant folders for each page.
So what can you do to get round this problem with the long URLs?
The honest answer is not much. You can contact your domain name provider and/or web host and ask them about domain masking. This will ensure that only your domain name shows up in a browsers address bar but that is it. No page names just the domain name no matter what page a visitor is on.
Quite frankly I would leave things as they are. Okay so it’s not the prettiest but then when was the last time you looked at a business card, advert in a newspaper or TV programme and the web address they gave you was ‘http://www.domainname.com/pagename.html’? Never right!! All you get is ‘www.domainname.com’. And this is all you have to give when you want people to visit your site.
If site visitors find something they really like on your iWeb site they will bookmark your page for later, not remember the entire URL. As long as you provide good navigation for your iWeb site so users can get around easily and don’t name your site in iWeb with a really long and meaningless name there really is no problem with the URL iWeb gives you.
In fact you can look at it as a bit of a bonus. Not only do you have your domain name to give you a boost in the SEO stakes, but you can give your site name a keyword rich title too, something ‘normal’ web designers can’t.
I would be interested to hear your take on your iWeb site’s URL. Are you happy with it? Leave a comment.