A couple of days back, I was involved in a heated discussion with a friend. He was going on about the merits of URL shortening services. Being a man of habit, I had to take the opposing view. The result was actually quite enlightening and by the end of the highly animated argument I had managed to convince him (Yay! I won).
On this page I shall list some of the disadvantages of shortening a URL. Decreasing the number of characters in the URL may be a good idea, and at times required, for microblogging web sites like Twitter. But for all other purposes, I would not advice this practice.
Years ago people used URL shortening services to get a more manageable, and probably more memorable, web site address because the ones provided by free web site hosting services (Geocities, Xoom etc.) were too long and cumbersome. In recent times, however, the URL shortening services have seen a sort of revival because of the prolific usage of micro blogging on sites such as Twitter.
I used the bit.ly service to get a shortened URL of this page. Please take a look at the links below as I shall reference them later in the post.
Actual URL: www.webdevelopersnotes.com/blog/disadvantages-shortening-urls/
Shortened URL: bit.ly/e6dly1
Yes, decreasing the length of a web address may save you on a few characters on Twitter where the post cannot exceed 140 characters, but for all other scenarios there are some very apparent disadvantages of shortening a URL and it’s best to avoid it.
My derision of URL shortening services should not give you the impression that they are useless. There are times when you can benefit from decreasing the length of the URL; for instance, when you are running out of characters in a Tweet. However, don’t use shortened URLs willy-nilly. On a related note, make sure the actual addresses of the web pages on your site are descriptive.
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