Your company needs a URL shortener

tl;dr Every company needs an internal URL shortener. Your new employees will thank you later.

You just started your new job, and you've got a million things to learn about, but never enough time to do them all. You want to sign up for a massage to take some of the stress off. But where do you sign up for massages? You can bug a coworker for the URL but they're busy too, and you're already bugging them 20 times a day about more important stuff. Alternately, you could search through the poorly documented company wiki. The page you find is probably out of date, but no one will tell you that the massage page moved 6 months ago.

The third option, and by far the best, is to punch massage into your company's URL shortener and get taken straight to the massage page. Once you've done this a few times and gotten success, you'll realize the power of it. And if you try the shortener and don't get any results, you get a form asking you to add the URL you do find, for the next new person who might come along. This is so helpful; you don't have to bookmark useful pages when you find them, or search through your history to find that really useful Perforce setup tutorial you only got halfway through.

Instead the URL shortener takes care of all of it. At Google you just type go/ followed by the name of whatever you're looking for, like go/massage or go/coffeescript. Curious about what the Google+ team is working on? Type in go/emeraldsea. If you don't get what you're looking for, you add it for the next person. This way Google's spaghetti mess of internal wiki software becomes manageable, and good resources never go missing. Another benefit is people can share links on ads and in talks very easily - just tell people the shortcut URL, which they're much more likely to remember than a full URL.

So stop worrying about keeping your website organized and get a URL shortener. If your documentation becomes deprecated, just make a new page and update the shortlink. It's not very hard to set up and it will help your new employees get up to speed faster.

To ensure you have no excuse, I wrote a minimum viable URL shortener over the last two nights. Check it out and contribute features. I hope your company will experience enlightenment soon.

Liked what you read? I am available for hire.

2 thoughts on “Your company needs a URL shortener

  1. Andrew Turner

    We have one internally at GeoCommons as well – though mostly used to point to music playlists.

    By the way, you need to open the repository permissions for the code link.


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