Link shorteners have been around for years but their common use has exploded due to Twitter and it’s 140 character limit. Unfortunately, more and more content editors and bloggers have begun using them on their websites as well.

Sure, nobody likes a 200 character long, unintelligible URL. Your website visitors like being surprised by where they end up after clicking a link even less.

Providing your site visitors with information on the domain and page a link will take them to is a critical user experience best practice. The more they know about what they’re about to click on the more likely they are to actually click the link. Which link to this blog’s Twitter archives shown below are you more likely to click on?

Full length: http://www.brianbehrend.com/tag/­twitter/
Shortened: http://bit.ly/­ePBm1U

The full path of a link informs the visitor about the destination domain and page name, along with some basic info about where the page is within the site and what type of file they’re about to load. The only thing worse than using shortened links on your website would be using a shortened link to surprise a visitor with a 65 megabyte PDF that crashes their browser.

Tiny URLs have their place, but it’s not on your website.