Lost in the Amazon

Currently, Amazon URLs are comprised of numeric strings and abbreviations that make them nearly useless for orientation, navigation, and as searchable text. I have no idea how I could manually edit an Amazon URL to move to a different part of the site and just looking at an Amazon link tells me very little about what it points to. Implementation details should be hidden in favor of URLs reflecting the organization of the site content.

Book: Leonardo’s Laptop

Actual URL


This gives me the ISBN, which isn’t of much use unless you have a memory for such things.

People-Friendly URL


This gives me the media type, the category & sub-category, and the title of the book. Usability testing would show what characters would be best used in place of spaces, colons, ampersands, etc.

DVD: The Prisoner, Set 1

Actual URL


People-Friendly URL


The actual URL indicates only the media type; no genre, no item name.

The Prisoner is the basis for “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes”, the Simpson’s episode (season 12, episode 6) in which Homer is abducted and imprisoned as Number 5 on an island where he is repeatedly drugged, involuntarily and otherwise.

Given Amazon’s breadth and depth, I’m sure setting up a clean URL scheme would be a big project. That is why programmers are paid big bucks!

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Daniel J. Wilson

I am a designer, drummer, and photographer in Brooklyn, NY.

2 thoughts on “Lost in the Amazon”

  1. Indeed, this is a stupidity on the part of Amazon. However, people friendly machine code doesnt really exist, to much of an extent, anywhere. Take for example mircosoft’s own help pages. Specific search strings get plasted into a load of hexidecimal (>?) crap in a long string. This sort of dehumanisation on the part of web designers, is really not their fault at all. Imagine for a second if you will having to organise say, 10000 pages? Wouldnt it be easier to give a specific page refrence like =9984 than having to give every page a ‘human like refrence’ I know this makes things hard to remember, but thats why things such as bookmarks, search history and google exists after all. 🙂

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