University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Our college is looking at offering a URL shortening service. If your college/university has implemented a URL shortening service, can you share your experience?

1. Can you tell me what prompted your college to develop the URL shortener? We’re discussing it now and there are several people who have asked why we don’t just use a 301 redirect.

2. Our plan was to offer the URL shortener to only staff through the portal, but I notice the University of Nebraska - Lincoln URL shortener application is public. Can you share your university’s thoughts on the public vs. private URL shortener?

3. What requirements did your users have for the URL shortener? We’ve looked at cli.gs and bit.ly as our models, and like the feature that cli.gs offers of being able to change the page link after the URL has been created.

Deborah Edwards-Onoro
Web Services
Washtenaw Community College
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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1. At Wayne State University we created an in house solution so our short URL's could be identified as "wayne.edu" URL's instead of a third party (bit.ly.. etc). It does do a 301 redirect in the end. The URL's are primarily used for Twitter and some limited Facebook situations.

2. Ours is not public yet but there has been talk about opening it up to the whole campus community.

3. Some requirements we had were to change the URL afterward if needed. See some basic statistics, like click throughs, timeline and referrers. Right now we are just fulfilling our own need but if other departments around campus have a need for more features we would probably add them.
Thanks Nick!

Appreciate the phone call this morning to discuss Wayne State's URL shortener service, and how it works.

I'm curious to hear what statistics other higher ed institutions have found useful.
We used Get Shorty. http://get-shorty.com/ We wanted the branding of the SFU.CA website and to date have left it open. (we may change this in the future if we get to much spam using it) We have set it up for i.sfu.ca get.sfu.ca and at.sfu.ca. We also wanted to host it on our own serves, which get shorty allows us to do.
Thanks Steve. I didn't know about Get Shorty. Looks promising, especially with the ability to have branding of the college name and host on our own servers.

Only concern is it has no Internet Explorer support, according to their website. :-(

Any idea if there is current work being done to add IE support? Last post to their forums was in 2006.
Well, I am not sure what our tech guys did to our installation but it works in IE for us. I'd be happy to connect you up with the guy who set this all up for our school. (he did it all in about a day and a half!
Thanks Steve.

I spoke with our senior developer about get-shorty. Is the URL shortener publicly available, or is it only available to the media relations and web departments?
Hi Deborah, Our URL shortener is available to everyone, for now We are keeping an eye on it and if it becomes too big a load on our servers we may restrict it to @sfu.ca accounts. It has been up and running now for almost 2 months and we have had no real issues.
Funny, I've just stumbled upon this post from Jeffrey Zeldman after seeing this thread. He mentions a WordPress Plugin to run your own url-shortener service: Short URL Plugin.

I haven't tested the plugin yet, but Zeldman thinks it does the job.
Hope this helps.
Hi Karine,

I read Jeffrey Zeldman's post this morning too. With the news this weekend that tr.im was no more, very timely post. Haven't checked out the Short URL plugin yet.

Jeffrey offers good advice that about creating our own URL shorteners, rather than depending on a third party application that might go out of business. Last spring, I lost stats of 500+ short URLs with cli.gs (my personal account, not the college) when the cli.gs system crashed, and they couldn't recover the stats on the URLs.
$99/year for short URL service hosted on your .edu. - http://makeme.awe.sm
We're using the Pretty Link Wordpress plugin for this. It's got basic reporting and the ability to change the destination URL.
I've not used this, but kissa.be! is a free url shortener that can be installed on your own server.

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