Friendly URLs

Choosing and requesting easier-to-remember web addresses.

Summary

Organizations opt for friendly URLs when they need a web address that is easier to promote and remember than a standard Mass.gov URL. Typically friendly URLs would be used on printed or other material, say a handout or billboard, where a person couldn't click on the URL immediately but might remember it when back online.

Standard Mass.gov URLs are generated automatically based on a page's Title, and include hyphens between each word. Except with Service pages, the URLs also contain the content type.

For example, the URL for a Topic page called "Paid Family and Medical Leave in Massachusetts" is https://www.mass.gov/topics/paid-family-and-medical-leave-in-massachusetts. The friendly URL that directs people to that page with the longer address is simply https://www.mass.gov/pfml.

The destination page for a friendly URL must be published before the friendly URL goes live.

Choosing a friendly URL

Before requesting a friendly URL, organizations should consider whether it will truly be friendly (i.e., memorable and relatively easy to type). Think about if it will be an upgrade over the standard URL.

Other key considerations about a friendly URL:

  • Could it be construed as offensive or urban slang?

  • Does it have another strong meaning in the marketplace?

  • Does it conflict with existing friendly URLs?

  • Might it conflict with other organizations' needs?

    • For example, a very general friendly URL term (e.g., "hiring") might be appropriately claimed by multiple organizations.

Requesting a friendly URL

An organization wouldn't necessarily know if a potential friendly URL conflicts with those that other organizations already have or are planning to use.

That's where the Mass Digital team can help. We ask that you apply for friendly URLs via a ServiceNow request at least 1 week before you plan to advertise the web address. This will allow the Mass.gov team to resolve any conflicts or unexpected issues.

Requests should include the desired friendly URL as well as the web address or ID of the existing page to which the friendly URL should steer people.

Our team can check the list of existing friendly URLs and report back on whether the requested URL is taken or might overlap with another organization's plans. Also, if we observe a possible negative connotation to the friendly URL, we can bring that to your attention and collaborate on an alternative.

One way to avoid conflicts is to put your organization's acronym in the friendly URL, before the word or words at the end of the address. At least a couple of organizations have done this for content related to employment: