I was back to the http://bit.ly service after a significant hiatus, and was pleasantly surprised with the simple and elegant interface. I am starting to blog about simple and elegant services starting primarily as an inspiration and reference for our internal teams.
Here is a bit of a context as to how I got started back with bit.ly: One of my biggest strengths is the ability to try out something immediately after hearing it. Not just reading about it, actually trying it out. This is a habit I’ve observed on some of the most impressive tech gurus I’ve had the privilege to work with. I had heard this story from a veteran blogger yesterday on how he has integrated bit.ly into his daily rhythm, and how that helps him produce a steady stream of good posts and tweets. Here I am this morning trying out the service again and attempting to integrate into my reading time.
- The first page on the bit.ly site is a treatise on simplicity.
- The most common use case for visitors to the site is to shorten a URL. A good sized text box for the source URL and a visible Shorten button right on the top of the page gives access to this most common use case.
- The main body of the page has enough whitespace and a few key elements with one large image and two calls to action .. Join (most visible) and Sign In (a very common use case)
- The space below describes the three most popular functions of the site: Organizing, Click Tracking and Sharing of links. Just a brief description and a simple vector graphic/icon to communicate the functionality.
There is some more stuff below the first Viewport that I was not too bothered with (What is a Viewport? Check out Apple’s developer page on Configuring the Viewport).
Here is what I learned from this very simple page, not unlike many other well designed pages around the world:
- Find out your most common use case and make it prominent and accessible in your app/site
- Simplicity is about understanding what your users are looking for out of your site/app, prioritizing the most common use cases and presenting them prominently.
- Simplicity is also about hiding the many trivial details from the first Viewport.
- White space is important to give the page a “light” feel.
There were a few other simple things that made the whole experience pleasant:
- Option to sign in through Facebook/Twitter, instead of creating a new account. Though it did not matter to me, it does reduce the friction in bringing in additional users. Single sign on in the enterprise space is such a biggie because of this pattern of user adoption. What more can we do to enable better adoption of the apps we create inside our customer organizations
- The service once I signed in also stayed simple: Two top level tabs (Your Stuff, Your Network) and four second level links to most commonly accessed functionality.
- The bulk of the page was ofcourse my bitmarks, and actions around them.
- Some quick help, and a promotion of some new features and tools rounded up the first page when signed in.
All in all, this is a pleasant site, that inspired me to write a blog as soon as encountered it. We strive to make our apps simpler inspired by sites like these.