URL Shortener is a service which offers alternate URLs for already existing websites. They lead the user via HTTP forwarding to the actual website. The purpose is to offer a short and unproblematic alias to a big URL that’s containing symbols.
Via webform, a short alias can be created on the provider’s homepage, as long as the goal-URL is specified. This alias then brings the user to the intended website, by using the original URL. Most providers also offer view statistics of the individual short URLs.
Benefits and risks
The URL Shortener is a way to avoid unwieldly URLs, but an alias actually hides the link’s target from the user, which might cause some trust issues: what if the user doesn’t really want to visit the site? On top of that is an alias for free, but in case the provider commercializes them, they loose their function immediatly. The URLs are also somewhat vulnerable to hacker attacks.