Less is more. That’s a sentiment that applies not only to URLs, but to this Google Chrome extension (which creates shortened URLs), as well. Let me explain. So many URLs these days are too long to comfortably fit inside an email or a post to Twitter, as an example. I mean, they’ll “fit” inside a Twitter update, but without leaving any room for much of an explanation for what the URL is for. The URL for this extension is a good example: it’s 86 characters long! And while a web address might fit inside an email (of course it will!), it might be too long to fit on one line, which could lead to the URL itself being “broken” because only the first part is clickable. This leads to the recipient of the email having to copy the first part to a new web page, then the second part, before loading the full URL. Not convenient at all!
To combat this, websites such as tinyurl.com popped up. They worked by converting your long URL to a tinyurl, which was much shorter. When a person clicked on a tinyurl, the web browser first went to the tinyurl website, before being quickly forwarded to the original website. It was fast and made for simple URL posting, but to create the shortened URL usually meant first copying the URL from the URL bar, then going to the website that would do the shortening, pasting in the long URL and clicking the “Shorten” button. The website would then create the shortened URL, which you could then copy to your clipboard before returning to paste it into an email, blog post or Twitter update. Thanks to Google URL Shortener, a new extension for Google Chrome which shortens URLs using the goo.gl shortening service, the process takes only a single click.
Using Google URL Shortener couldn’t be much simpler. When you find yourself on a website that you want to share, but which has a URL that is too long to share comfortably, just click the green icon. A small pop-up will appear after a short bit (the wait time is totally dependent on how long goo.gl takes to return the shortened URL). When the pop-up appears, you’ll see the shortened URL, along with text that tells you the URL has already been copied to your clipboard. This means that all you need to do to share the URL is paste it (into your document, email, blog post, social media update, etc.); everything else has already been done for you.
As an example, let’s say you wanted to share a single comment from the comments section of an ESPN.com article. The URL for a single comment is this:
The shortened URL is this:
Which would you rather share?
As I said at the beginning of this article: less is more. Shorter URLs are better for sharing, and the Google URL Shortener is so simple to use, so idiot-proof, especially compared to other URL shorteners (or doing it by hand by copying the long URL and pasting it in the text box at the URL shortening website), that anyone can use it. It takes up no memory while not actively being used, that everyone not only can use it, but should use it.
Or, if you prefer, the shortened version: http://goo.gl/4A2wY