You may have heard that popular link-shortening service Bit.ly has had a bit of a redesign. Or maybe you were just made aware of that fact when you logged in to your account and everything was all over the place.
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Ok, so the old Bit.ly wasn’t on my list of the top 10 most beautifully designed sites on the web, but it was functional. There was a nice big bar at the top where you pasted your link, it shrunk before your very eyes, you copied it to your clipboard and moved on with your life. When you got distracted and wandered off for a moment, you could go back and copy and double-check the link without much hassle. Sigh. Those were the days.
In the age of t.co, Bit.ly is trying to be more than a URL shortener — and the “new Bit.ly” has a lot more features than the ability to reduce the size of a link. They’re now styling themselves as more of a bookmarking service — now you have to save the links you want to shorten (called ‘bitmarks’), and you’re supposed to share them with your friends/followers/stalkers on various social networks. They’ve also launched their first ever iPhone app and a new bookmarklet and Chrome extension.
Why the change? Bit.ly is one of the most popular URL shorteners in the world — Bit.ly users shorten over 100 million links daily and these links account for one percent of clicks on the internet (around 300 million clicks a day). So many users are wondering why Bit.ly fixed something that wasn’t broken. Yes, there are a few interesting new features — like a much more detailed analytics page and a social feed that allows you to see what your friends are sharing. But if you’re really looking for a social bookmarking service, you may want to try out something called Delicious.
More clicks, less speed
One of the major problems with the redesign is how it’s affected the main (okay, only) reason people use Bit.ly — to shorten links. Previously the process went like this: Paste link, wait a second, copy link. Now, it’s become a bit more of a time-consuming exercise:
Click ‘add bitmark’.
Wait for new window to load.
Wait for Bit.ly to fetch the page title.
Add tags or a note.
Copy link from bar at the top of the new page.
You have to go through almost as much hassle if you’re using the bookmarklet. If you’re the type of power user who shortens lots of links throughout the day, it’s going to slow you down. You also can’t go back and quickly copy the link again — you have to click a ‘i’ button, wait for it to expand, and click ‘copy’. Also, you can’t see your stats next to the links anymore — they’re all on a separate page. Annoyed yet? It seems a lot of users are too — but that’s pretty much expected anytime a website announces an update nowadays.
But will the users stick around when you’ve actually made it more difficult to use your website’s primary service?