Today link shortening service Bit.ly introduced a redesign that turns it into something more than a link shortener, compromising what made Bit.ly so desirable in the first place.
The new design, which Bit.ly announced in a blog post this morning, makes the service more like a social network. Many blogs have compared it to Pinterest, Delicious or even Twitter, with the introduction of "bitmarks," which work like bookmarked links that users can share and search and whatnot. These come as recommendations from the site and show up in a Twitter-style stream. It's not all about shortening anymore. It's about that beloved Internet word: Sharing. That's fun and all, if you're into that, but for those who liked Bit.ly for a quick, easy, Twitter-friendly link, the new design lacks that simplicity that made shortening so breezy. Things got complicated.
It's not that new Bit.ly got rid of its link shortening roots altogether, it just isn't the main event anymore. Whereas the old design had a big giant, impossible-to-miss link shortening box right on the homepage, the new design relegates that to a tiny search bar size field on the top right of the page. Here's an old screenshot of old bit.ly, which as you can see just asked the user to paste a link and voila, would spit out a shorter one.
And then we have new Bit.ly. That box next to that inexplicable puffer fish is where the shortening happens:
It takes a few steps to get to the shorter link, but it happens. Also, as far as we can tell, the sidebar bookmarklet tool and Chrome extension, which presumably many Bit.ly power users who will miss this link shortening most, works just as a link shortener. The Verge's Andrew Webster tells us that the only changes to those are they now let link sharers add details and either save or share the link.
As for the rest of the Bit.ly homepage it is now dedicated to "Your stuff," which is a feed of both site recommended and one's own shared bitmarks, which users can edit or share in bundles or post privately if they want. Then there's the "Your network" tab, which has links shared from people in one's Twitter or Facebook networks. The point, of course, is to make Bit.ly the destination, rather than just a freshen up station for Internet traffic. But, for those who relied on it do its very simple job, the new design might take a bit of time getting used to.