Over and over I see companies doing crazy things with their URIs!...
- Belair Direct is an insurance company. A few years ago they ran radio ads directing customers to their site, "Belair Direct dot com". In print, that would be fine; but when I tried to surf there after hearing their radio ad, I had no idea how they spelled "Belair". I tried belle-airdirect.com, belleairdirect.com, belairedirect.com, belair-direct.com, bell-air-direct.com, belleair-direct.com, and many other variations before I hit the right one. "badirect.com" would have been a much less ambiguous choice for radio ads -- even if it just did a redirect to belairdirect.com.
- I often see advertising that links or refers to the main page of a web site. Makes sense -- but if a separate URI was used, the effectiveness of the advertising could be tracked very easily. On a Linux or Unix system, creating a symlink from the directory "radio" to the main directory is trivial, but the web log files will clearly show who is going to www.foo.com/radio instead of www.foo.com (even if they've bookmarked the site and come back later). This is exactly what Dell is doing with the "dell.ca/radio" URI that they use in their ads on 680 News.
- DNS and virtual host entries for web sites should allow visitors to prepend "www" to the domain name or to leave it off. Last year, BMW Canada did a mass distribution of a really lavish promo piece. It must have cost at least $1 per copy to publish and distribute; it was a saddle-stitched booklet, 4-colour bleed, on really heavy stock and laquered -- one of those brochures that just feels expensive as it caresses your hands. It directed potential customers to "bmw.ca". Unfortunately, the webmaster had only configured a DNS entry/virtual host for "www.bmw.ca" -- so tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars were spent directing customers to a web site that didn't exist. Surprisingly, that mistake is becoming more and more common.
- Users have butterfingers. Why not configure DNS and virtual hosts for ww.foo.com and wwww.foo.com in addition to www.foo.com? It doesn't cost any more. For an extra couple bucks a month, why not also register the domains fooo.com and fo.com?
- A domain name can be subdivided as you see fit. If you have operations in Toronto and Vancouver, go ahead and use toronto.foo.com and vancouver.foo.com. If you're constantly directing users to www.foo.com/catalog/categories/widgets, why not create the host name widgets.foo.com?
(What is a URI? It's a Universal Resource Identifier. On the web, URLs and URIs are basically the same, according to the W3C).