Bitly redesign takes service from easy-to-use to convoluted overnight

Count me as one of the many people who really don’t get the bitly redesign from the premier URL shortening service to a social bookmarking site.

I have used bitly every day professionally and personally for several years. I rely on the analytics, and I have appreciated the easy-to-use nature of their Website, API and browser plugins.

I may drop bitly because it now takes several steps to use it as a URL shortening service, where it was lightening fast to share a link with the bitly browser plugin. I first have to save a social bookmark before I can actually grab the shortened URL. While this is an interesting idea to combine social bookmarking and URL shortening into one service, it doesn’t work when I’m just looking for a quick way to shorten a URL, bitly.

That’s a shame, because I really liked bitly as a URL shortening service. I do understand that with the demise of Delicious and other social bookmarking services that there is an opening for a good social bookmarking service. Bitly needs to work on this transition better, because people who are looking for a quick and good way to shorten URLs shouldn’t have to also go through the whole process of saving a bookmark for later (or the process of doing a quick URL shortening with the browser plugin should automatically created a bookmark for later).

If done properly, this could really help expand bitly’s usefulness and bring in new users. I get what they are attemping to do here, but the execution has been very poor. I was not notified of the changes coming, and I haven’t seen a really good explanation of why the changes were made.

The biggest issues with the switch are on the UI and UX front. Bitly feels unwieldy right now, and the site needs to become smarter if it wants to combine the two functions. Wwhy not have one step for creating a bookmark and shortening and sharing a URL? Before you could shorten and share a URL in one step with the old bookmark. Why do we need to jump through several steps now to also do a social bookmark?

Bitly needs to work on a way to make this service work well as a social bookmarking site and as a URL shortener. Right now, it has a lot of potential for a social bookmarking site — could even be the best — but it’s too cumbersome to use a lot for URL shortening.

The one saving grace of bitly, and what will make it hard to replace, is its API. Bitly integrates beautifully with a lot of services and websites, allowing users to keep all of their shortened URLs in one service. Ironically, once I link up my bitly account to Twitterrific, it’s exactly the kind of fast and easy service that just works that the rest of bitly should be.

We’ll have more coming on the bitly redesign. As it stands, it’s a great example of how to take a fast, easy-to0-use service and make it hard-to-use and slow overnight.