I felt like I had to balance out yesterday’s whinge about Ulsterbank by contributing something positive about something else.
When I first saw short.ie I didn’t actually get the point. There’s dozens of URL shortening services out there, and they all do pretty much the same thing. Take an URL, make it small enough to be passed around on forums and in email, and let people preview it just to be sure that they’re not sent to some horrible shock site.
I decided I’d log in anyway and see what the big deal was about, and was pleasantly surprised. The innovation at play here is that short.ie can track your your individual links, letting you know what sort of content is useful. If you’re trying to drive traffic to a site this could be quite interesting – you can create several links to the same content and see how many responses you get in real time. I assume that the site is issuing HTTP code 301 redirects, as google analytics never picks up short.ie in the referral list. Very nice!
Additionally, you can apply for a developer key and use their API (available for python and php) to shorten urls in your own applications. For the egos out there, the main page of short.ie keeps a list of the most popular URLs linked to, and the top linkers. I think this is particularly clever as it will foster competition between a certain type of people to use short.ie more often.
My lesson out of this is that even though something might be done to death there’s still room for killer innovation. I don’t find myself using other URL shortening services any more, as with short.ie I can immediately see what links people find most interesting.
Short.ie is a collaboration between WebStrong (who launched http://twitterperch.com/ yesterday) and Echolibre. I’m also really looking forward to seeing www.footprintapp.com by Webstrong when it’s launched. Looks interesting!