How to Simplify Your Life with Custom URLs

Turn long URLs into short, easy-to-remember tags

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #429

We’re living in the future! And here in the future, we sign up for online services and social media sites. Those services give us convenient, easy-to-use links for us to get back to them.How to Simplify Your Life with Custom URLs

For instance, you might sign up as a bookstore affiliate. When your friend wants you to send them a link to that great book you’re reading (“Hairy Potter and the Kiln of Doom”), you want to grab an affiliate link and send it over in a text message. You visit the Amazing Online Bookstore and it gives you a special affiliate link to send your friend. Something simple, and easy to remember and type: http://www.amazingonlinebookstore.com/order/23423942/ordreview.php?uid=3204982&opt=4&affil=234&creative=15&spork=utensil . Just type that right into a text message and you’re good to go!

Grandma Cuddles is in a tizzy. Intern MG has been working for her a couple days a week and has been doing a bang-up job. He’s automated the business beyond what anyone thought possible. Now Grandma Cuddles Day Care uses web-based systems for pretty much everything. There’s just one tiny problem … Cuddles has to access her sites from a dozen different devices throughout the Center. Not everything is bookmarked everywhere, and she doesn’t know the web addresses by heart.

It's trivial to change web providers; keep the same shortcut and just change where it goes!

And when talking on the phone to parents who are eager to rid themselves of their crying, screeching offspring, she needs to be able to give the parents directions to the online services MG set up that handle scheduling, payment, inventory, life insurance policies, and so on. All those links are impossible to remember, and equally impossible to read over the phone.

While he was here, he knew all the links by heart (of course, he has a perfect photographic memory), and would talk customers through connecting to the right page. Sadly, MG isn’t around to take the calls this semester. He’s taking a foreign semester abroad. He’s living in a castle in the Netherlands. Yes, a castle. (I never got to live in a castle when I was a student. But I guess MG is just special. I had to walk uphill to school both ways. Builds character. Too bad MG won’t get to build character. Ha ha joking. not really) Without him around, Grandma Cuddles is at her wit’s end.

Fortunately, the answer to her problems is just a few keystrokes away.

Create Shortcuts for Long URLs

When you have complicated URLs, you need to remember: use a URL shortener. A URL shortener lets you enter a long, complicated URL and it gives you back a short, simple one that you can type into a browser and it will redirect you to the same place as the original link. 

You can take your Amazing Bookstore Affiliate link, run it through a shortener, and get a really tiny URL that you can give to a friend, something like http://tinyurl.com/getitdoneguy, a tiny link that will redirect you to the Amazon page for my book. Only the TinyUrl is easier to remember.

There are a lot of link shorteners, but I believe that TinyUrl.com was the very first. And it’s free. And it doesn’t require an account. And it doesn’t have a monthly service charge. 

Grandma Cuddles can simply create a TinyUrl http://tinyurl.com/cuddlescalendar, which magically redirects to the magical link that her third-party scheduling platform gave her for scheduling the daycare’s medical intake appointments. 

She starts all her short URLs start with the word “cuddles” to distinguish them from abbreviations someone else may have created containing the word “calendar.”

Create Shortcuts on Your Site

Of course, rather than relying on a 3rd party service, if you have your own web site you can have your web site do the redirects. Grandma Cuddles has her own web site, she can simply have http://grandmacuddles.com/calendar redirect straight to her calendar program. 

Now she can just tell people over the phone, “To schedule a full examination of your adorable little tot to assess whether they have what it takes to survive and thrive in the Grandma Cuddles happy fun play rooms, just go to grandmacuddles.com/calendar and book yourself an appointment. Easy for Grandma to remember, easy to say by phone, and easy for desperate parents to type into a web browser.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.