We’re in a time of short URLs. With the Twitters and Facebooks and everything else, the links we share with people need to short. Services like TinyURL and TwitterHat turn a long web address into something text message friendly, but do short links make your actual domain and address meaningless?
I’m still an advocate of getting a good domain name. Something you can say easily in conversation, a name that doesn’t have any double letters or special characters, and using common spellings and full words, no assume abbreviations. The era of short URLs won’t eliminate the need for a good domain name, even if just from a branding sense. But with short URLs the branding built-in to your domain is now more or less obsolete.
I like my domain – MorningToast.com – it’s easy to say to people, it spells nicely, it’s two words people know. I want people to know the domain but with all the shorteners out there, it turns my MorningToast.com into is.gd/CmXs or something even shorter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a more than fair trade-off — people to my site at a sacrifice of domain branding — but does this lead to a bigger picture that eliminates the worry of “good” URLs?
In the past I’ve always wanted “pretty” URLs that have proper words, underscores…so it looks nice. Not only does it look better in the web address, it can be more memorable than a seemingly random string of numbers. And if you use folders as landing points, then the URL even becomes more important, for example, MorningToast.com/caveradio – which is much better than some long winded, unmemorable address.
What does this all mean?
For one, it means people won’t be remembering your domain name, but they could be remembering your site. In other words, site design and presentation is even more important now. Since people have no idea where they’re going when they click on a shortened URL, the impact you make when the land on your page is even more important than ever. Getting a short URL link to your site from someone other than you is one in a million, it may not happen again, so make that first impression count.
Does http://is.gd/Cn6K go to a video? A photo? Music? A blog post?
You don’t know where it goes and unless the person sending the link did a good job of providing context, otherwise you won’t know until you land.
Just one more thing that we as web developers/strategists now have to consider.
Thanks, convenience, thanks.