Jono from Mozilla makes a great point that most people (including me) have completely overlooked when it comes to the Web — most people don’t really understand URLs:
So what this mess teaches us is that there are lots of people out there who don’t know how to read a URL. The URL in the location bar, if they notice it at all, must appear to them as nothing but a bunch of computer gibberish.
Think about it from their point of view. They knew that Googling “facebook login” and then clicking the first link took them to their Facebook login. I wouldn’t call it the best way of getting to Facebook, but it was obviously working for these poor souls. Until one day, they saw something they didn’t expect. If you don’t know how URLs work, then all you know is that your expected Facebook login page has somehow been replaced with… something else.
The whole blog post is really thought provoking and worth reading for anyone who designs or develops software. For those of us who have completely internalized URLs, it’s hard to empathize with people who see getting to Web sites as a series of steps they follow. At this point it doesn’t matter whether people access all the Web sites they use through Google or some other search engine, other than to figure out how to make things better for people who use the Web that way.
I wonder whether browsers could display URLs in a way that makes things easier for users. The most important thing about a URL, especially in terms of preventing fraud, is the domain name — the real one, not the fake one that’s included to defraud people. Maybe it should be highlighted in some way with the owner of the domain displayed as well.
Via Simon Willison.