Under the supervision of YesElf: is Bitly's onboarding as comprehensible as its shortened URLs?

18.12.2018, 5 minutes read

Bitly in a nutshell

Bitly is a world-famous URL shortening service and shortened shortened links management platform. This shortener had been established in 2008; yet, it didn’t become popular until 2009 after Twitter started to use it as a default shortening service for URLs which would exceed the Twitter's limit of 140 characters.

Bitly shortens, on average, 600 million URLs per month. Since its foundation, this service helped to save a lot of space in tweets, messages, and emails more than 37.5 billion times, i. e. the total number of shortened URLs so far.

Onboarding on Bitly’s website

Before we get down to our onboarding analysis in Bitly’s UI, let’s discuss the onboarding on its landing page. Because if you decide to give this service a try, you can be sure you will end up (or rather start) here.

First thing which drew our attention was the headline which, however, doesn’t say much about the use of the service. Way more telling is the subheadline which introduced the possibilities and benefits of Bitly.

The very first sentence reveals that we can use Bitly to brand, track, and optimize any URL. Furthermore, we learn that Bitly is the world’s leading link management platform.

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Providing value to the users before asking for anything is one of the main principles of a successful onboarding. It seems that Bitly is fully aware of this fact as you can shorten your URL directly in the webpage initial section without filling out a single field. Naturally, besides the field to enter the URL you need to shorten.

Another contrast element claiming our attention is the bubble in the corner. This bubble lead us to the subpage where you can download an e-book intended for Bitly for enterprises.

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As we find ourselves on the first screen and this version hasn’t been mentioned so far at all, such content is irrelevant for us. They could have saved the bubble for later and display it on more suitable place. For instance on a screen with the listing of Bitly Enterprise's benefits.

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In the next part of the website, we learn about the biggest benefits which Bitly, the management platform, can have for enterprises. We had kept scrolling and landed in a section which also deserves our praise.

Real-time counter of shortened URLs followed by listing of brands using Bitly give the brand higher credibility and make it more trustworthy.

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We appreciate the perfectly managed subpage with information about the functionalities of the Enterprise premium version. Clear arrangement, well-expressed copy, and a user-friendly graphical depiction of the individual features give the user a nice overview of benefits the Bitly premium version can have for his or her company.

It’s a shame that links, which open the sample videos, redirect you to Vimeo on a new tab. Such solution may disturb the smooth onboarding process.

Our solution: videos could be opened in a popup so the users do not have to leave the website.

Bitly builds on its own content of instructional videos, webinars, and infographics, which is praiseworthy, because these can also be perceived as an additional form of onboarding. These videos allow users to develop their user skills.

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Our objection, however, concerns the comprehensive form to be filled out when it comes to Bitly with extensions. The extensiveness of the required data compares to filing out a tax return.

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We left the page and headed to try out the free version. Here, the form consisting of 4 steps and social login was more to our liking.

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Onboarding in the UI

After the signup, we landed in the UI of the web app and were welcomed by the introductory guide to basic settings.

It seems that Bitly’s onboarding tool is living a double life. Do you remember the vast signup form for the Enterprise version which was “not our thing”? Imagine that the free version requires the same amount of information; however, instead of asking for it all at once, Bitly now asks to fill out the information progressively.

Thumbs up, Bitly! It seems that at Bitly, they know the power of progressive profiling which increases the signup completion rate.

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We were filling out the additional information and marveling at the introductory guide and in the meantime, a welcome email beeped on our phone.

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After we created the shortened URL, we got to the dashboard with the history of shortened URLs and stats on website traffic on its timeline.

The guide welcomed us after our return to the app as well. Apart from the welcome, Bitly delivers another tip about why and how to create personalized URLs.

Onboarding also continues when you leave the app. After signing out of Bitly, we received an email about why and how to use personalized shortened URLs. Email as an extra channel is a great instrument not only for users’ additional education, but also to convince them to return to the app.

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Summary of Bitly's onboarding

+     providing value to the users from the beginning,

+     using progressive profiling,

+     graphical depiction of the current guide step as a progress bar,

+     using tooltips during onboarding,

-      too comprehensive signup form for enterprises,

-      underutilization of the potential of empty states.

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