URL Shortener

The gist: Allow users to create short versions of links to make them easier to speak and share.

For example, https://some.place.example.com/foo/bar/biz being shorted to https://short.ly/abc123

Having a short URL can be nice for making it easier for people to type it in, whether hearing it on a podcast or reading it on a poster. Sure, QR codes sort of stole the show for the latter use case, but it's still a good learning project!


Here's what the simple interface could look like:

URL shortener mock-ups. First view: logo, instruction, URL input and "Shorten" button. Second view: the same, except a disabled button, a success message, the link and a copy button


  • Build a web page with a form for entering a URL
  • When the form is submitted, return a shortened version of the URL
  • Ensure the slug of the URL (abc123 in the example above) is unique
  • When the shortened URL is accessed, redirect to the stored URL
  • If an invalid slug is accessed, display a 404 Not Found page


  • Accepting & validating input
  • Algorithm design
  • Storing & fetching data
  • Responding to requests & redirecting

Extra Credit

  • Validate the entered URL is actually a URL
  • Make it easy to copy the generated URL to the clipboard
  • Calculate the max number unique slugs that can be generated from your algorithm
  • Allow users to edit the slug of the generated URL
    • Ensure the slug is unique
  • Add support for accounts so people can view the short URLs they created
  • Track the visits to the short URL and surface to the owner


  • bit.ly — the long-standing URL shortener!
  • TinyURL — another long-standing one