I still blog, and so does my wife (yes, wife, using the word is getting less weird by the day). We’re hoping our son will document some of his achievements on his own blog in the future, too (more on that in another post), plus it would be great to share stories as a family. We are very different people, obviously, so one site for all of those separate concerns wouldn’t really work. Thus, the hickling.is domain was born. Wait: what is that, and why? Among the blogs I read and the many articles I save daily, one still sticks in the mind: the concept of URL sentences, as shared by Chris Shiftlett. For example, it’s obvious that the following URL (web address), http://clearleft.com/made/channel-4-scrapbook, will lead us to an article on how Clearleft made the Channel 4 Scrapbook, relative to something like http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-18036981.

After a little thought, we created this template:



Having a subdomain per family member partitions the site and gives immediate context to the URL sentence. We can also blog as a family using the-family.


Fortunately, a Hickling family hadn’t claimed an Icelandic online presence, nor had a town of the same name been established there, as the country code works brilliantly as a verb!


Laura shows these in her URLs, whereas I omit them (for now). By default, Wordpress will display an individual category under the “directory” category/, and doesn’t provide a means to change this, but the No Category Parents plugin will remove it.


What we’re really interested in: posts and pages. Generating usable sentence descriptions for each requires tweaking the following settings in Wordpress:

  • Posts: choose the Post name option from Common Settings, under Settings => Permalinks. Posts are automatically assigned URL-friendly names (see the address of this post), but can be altered individually.
  • Pages: these will also be given URL -friendly names, like posts. However, pages such as the typical About need better URL addresses, and so will need individual editing.

Next time you see a URL like laura.hickling.is/baking/birthday-cupcakes-for-dave-and-steve, you might picture it like this:

Laura URL sentence

Overall, hosting these unique sites under one domain has been easy to administer, and we’ve enjoyed creating story titles that work well with the sentence theme. The site structure seems to lend itself nicely to some fun joint branding in the future, too. I’m interested to see how this might apply to the web applications we decide to host, such as ownCloud, rather than just blogs at present, so expect an update in the future!