At USAGov, we’re constantly evaluating the programs we operate to ensure that they’re still meeting the needs of our users. In some cases, this leads to a decision that our resources can be better spent elsewhere and that we should decommission a product. This is never an easy decision, but given the rate of change online, it’s an important part of ensuring that we’re using our resources in the best way possible to help the public find government information and services.
We recently performed an evaluation on 1.USA.gov, a URL shortening solution we’ve operated with Bitly since 2010, and found that the number of people who use the service is declining, and that the general sentiment towards the service can best be described as ambivalence. Additionally, the nature of using short URLs is changing. Social media services, such as Twitter, are changing how they treat links. Users are getting better at looking at the context of the information provided with a link as well as its source to judge its trustworthiness, as opposed to just looking at the link’s domain.
As a result of this evaluation, and our own strategic roadmap, we have decided to deactivate the service on June 30, 2016. Existing 1.USA.gov short URLs will continue to work after this time, but newly shorted government URLs on Bitly.com will be normal bit.ly short URLs as opposed to 1.USA.gov short URLs.
By shutting down the service, we’ll be able to shift our resources to further developing our other products, which we feel will allow us to serve the public in more beneficial and direct ways than continuing to operate 1.USA.gov.
Russell O'Neill is the Web Operations Team Lead for USAGov.