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With Associates

Posted by Will Hudson,

Every month we meet our web developers With Associates and run through tweaks we’d like to make to the site, not a one way process there is always plenty of discussion as to the best way of doing something.

Last month we merrily said we’d like our twitter account to feed into the noted section, about ten minutes later we’d worked out we didn’t want everything to feed through, just selected tweets and that there should be some way of shortening urls that would be protected even if the provider went down. The solution, http://itsniceth.at, we asked With to explain more.

So With Associates, we’ve got something rather clever going on, what is it?

It’s a dedicated It’s Nice That URL shortener. It does the same job as bit.ly or tinyurl or any of the other URL shortening services out there, but we made it especially for you guys.

Can you explain a bit more as to why have we done this and if anyone else doing it?

We added the functionality to It’s Nice That for a number of reasons. Mainly though we should admit it was because we wanted to give it a go, as for such a useful tool, it’s actually relatively fun and simple to build. The theory wasn’t all fun and games though. The serious side is the fragility of using 3rd party services for something as important as hyperlinking.

You were using bit.ly for example. Hundreds of Tweets of yours went out with their links in. If they ever went down, or under (see the recent tr.im fiasco), all your links would die. All your work would be dead (the same goes for Twitter in the first instance of course, but lets gloss over that one for the moment). By giving you your own short URLs gives you more control over your service.

It’s part of the whole link rot issue and that’s something we’re increasingly concerned about at With Associates. Our feeling is that more thought should be given to the longevity of digital media, in the same way that archival inks and papers are in the print industry. (Read more on URL shortening from the great Jeffrey Zeldman)

What’s the longest domain you’ve ever visited?

A favourite long URL from a few months back was www.jonesbigasstruckrentalandstorage.com followed by www.jonesgoodassbbqandfootmassage.com. Both highlighted the fact that it’s no longer critical to have a short and memorable URL. People remember words, concepts and services more than URL strings and go straight to search engines when looking for websites.

Google big ass truck rental and you’ll find it. Sadly however Jones’ sites were just a joke, but the concept is increasingly being used by advertisers, with print and TV campaigns that direct people to searching for a term as opposed to entering a URL. On the less memorable and searchable side there’s the recent 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592.com which had Pi to one million decimal places but due to server load issues now just has an equally impressive Guitar Hero 3 video.

If you could shorten anything else, what would it be?

When an innuendo or pun is staring you in the face, is it worse to say it, or not say it and risk appearing like you didn’t think of it?

Alex: Winter.
Erin: The time it takes clients to pay.
Jenifer: The spacetime between Scotland and London.
Mathew: Erin.

Image taken from With Associates Flickr

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Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.