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Making a page too dynamic

September 25, 2009

MyLocalPark.com has a feature where a visitor can choose to jump to a randomly selected park. The way this initially worked was the “random”-link simply selected a park at random, and build the park-screen. The “random”-link’s URL looked like this:

http://www.mylocalpark.com/random

The problem with this design was that if the visitor navigated to another screen, and then used their browser’s back-button, they were presented with an entirely new park each time they returned. This effectively broke the browser’s back-button, and my focus group displayed quite a bit of confusion (yes I did, and continue to, use a focus group. They’re a small group of friends and family who agreed to help unpaid, and to whom I am very grateful).

In any case, I knew we had to change this functionality, and did so first thing. The change was simple, the code now does an HTTP-redirect to the actual park-screen of the randomly selected park. That URL looks like something this:

http://www.mylocalpark.com/park/spiritbrook+neighborhood+park+redmond

I did worry over this change before implementation. Redirects, especially temporary redirects, are considered bad form by some pundits of “good web design”. But I finally decided that this was a proper use of the functionality.

My focus group appreciated the change. They’re happy, I’m happy, and now I just hope the general public will be happy.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 26, 2009 6:47 am

    i think you made the right decision here — i have always disagreed with those who claim that the 302 is inherently *bad*.

    in today’s web, as evidenced by cases like this one, URIs often point to a *function* rather a “location of a specific data set”.

    it seems to me that the 302 is more or less perfectly designed to handle this.

    the information at the landing page will be crawled and indexed independently anyway, so there is likely not much of a real-world SEO penalty.

    $0.02

    – chris

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