no http:// in fields

There are lots of text fields out there that want you to enter a URL, but many of them think they’re doing you a favor by putting http:// in the field for you. I don’t find this helpful because I’m usually pasting the URL into the field, meaning I have to get rid of the http:// before I paste.

The site that set me off on this little rant is URL info.

An even better solution is to make the http:// optional, so if I am typing in a domain I can skip it and just enter the domain (e.g.

After writing that last part I checked the site and it automatically added the http:// to That makes it even more odd that they put it there in the first place, because it’s not necessary and gets in the way if you’re pasting.


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  1. I think the problem with the URLinfo site is that the field has no label. If it weren’t for the http:// there, users wouldn’t know how to use the field. I can see the authors are trying to keep the design compact, but a field label really is necessary on that site.

    Comment by Meredith on September 23, 2004 @ 4:55 pm
  2. I can kinda see your point, but you can always do this: instead of just clicking on the text field (to set the focus), you can click & drag your mouse at the same time, so as to select the HTTP part. Then paste, and you’re done.

    In other words, as long as the HTTP part isn’t “hard-coded”, you can deal with it without a hitch.

    Imagine, though if you had a text field where the HTTP was “hard-coded”, as in:

    Please enter your
    http:// [text-field-here]

    Now that would be a lousy implementation.

    Comment by Konstantinos on September 23, 2004 @ 5:07 pm
  3. Thanks for the feedback on URLinfo.

    Hint: leave the “http://” bit in *and* paste in a URL starting with “http://”. See what I mean? This feature existed prior to these comments, btw.

    Also URLinfo I think works best as a bookmarklet, as opposed to going to the site and pasting a URL in.

    Comment by Michael Fagan on September 23, 2004 @ 5:15 pm
  4. Konstantinos: I agree, but why make users have to do that?

    Michael: I didn’t realize it could cope with double http://'s. Thanks for letting me know.

    Comment by dan on September 23, 2004 @ 5:37 pm
  5. It’s a tough decision, but thankfully it won’t cause any world wars.

    And the capability of dealing with multiple “http://”s isn’t written anywhere, so you wouldn’t notice unless you tried it.

    So your overall URLinfo experience is now satisfying? ;-)

    Comment by Michael Fagan on September 23, 2004 @ 5:45 pm
  6. Dan: because for those who don’t do copying & pasting, having the “http://” means they don’t have to type 7 extra characters. So, we gotta have a quick workaround (the one I’ve mentioned, for example).

    Meredith: if the sole purpose of the “http://” inside the text field is to let the users know this is supposed to be a URL, you can simply add some javascript*, so that when the user clicks on the field, the “http://” part magically disappears.

    So you get to let the users know it’s a URL, and you keep Dan happy. (Just teasing you on that last one, Dan.)

    * Javascript code: onfocus=”if(this.value==’http://’)this.value=”;” onblur=”if(this.value==”)this.value=’http://’;”

    Let’s hope the aforementioned bit of Javascript gets rendered smoothly. You can see a live demo of it, on my website (have a look at the search form on the right sidebar).

    Comment by Konstantinos on September 23, 2004 @ 6:03 pm
  7. Michael: Indeed it has. Thanks for making the site available.

    Konstantinos: But the http:// isn’t even required, remember? Typing in works fine.

    Comment by dan on September 23, 2004 @ 11:21 pm
  8. You’re referring to the “URL Info” service, I’m speaking more generally (for example: weblog comments).

    And yes, you can probably have the “URL” field in weblog comments automatically append a “http://” prefix when it notices it’s not there; just a line or two of scripting.

    I originally approached this issue from the point of what the user can do to make it work, quickly and efficiently, without having to test whether it works without the “http://” so he can use it that way.

    Of course, I’m with you; work on the problem on the programmer’s front, modify it so that it works invisibly for the user (has he included the “http://” prefix? rock on, hasn’t he? let me put it there automatically before posting it), that’s what good programming is all about.

    Hope it’s all clearer now.

    Comment by Konstantinos on September 24, 2004 @ 1:28 pm

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