An abbreviation for “world wide web,” the primary purpose of www was to distinguish between the different servers. For most internet users, there’s a good chance you don’t know what that means (and realistically, you don’t have to). However, for a little background, we’ll cover it here.
History of www
When you plug a URL into the address bar, you assume that you’re calling up a website, but that’s not the only thing that can be accessed. Developers can choose to set up their servers however they see fit, which could include housing a number of different website as well as other technical functions, such as FTP servers (for file hosting) or email servers (to make sure you get that message from your boss).
Additionally, the web hasn’t been around forever, so seeing words followed by a .com didn’t make it clear that a website was being referenced. By adding the prefix www; marketers could easily trigger the mechanism in consumers’ minds to relate this piece of copy to a website that they could, no doubt, scribble down on a note-pad and rush home to their dial-up modem connected machines to learn more. (I joke, because I did this.)
So… Should I Use It or Lose It
In today’s world, most users are well aware that a .com, .net, or even one of the other crazier top-level domains like .coffee, indicate they will be going to a website, and adhere to the rule of thumb that the less characters, the better.
On the other hand, there are web traditionalists who will always enter in those repetitive consonants.
At the end of the day, it is up to the site to set users up for success. A decision should be made prior to launch (though it can be done at any point after, have no fear if you’re stuck in this conundrum) whether or not you will include the elusive www. Regardless of which direction you take, developers should set up 301 redirects pointing to the other versions.
Example: if you want www.graydientcreative.com to be your TRUE url, then redirects should be put in place for those who simply type graydientcreative.com. (Additionally, setting up ww.graydientcreative.com to point back to the main set may also be a good idea, as those fast fingers may occasionally miss a w, even when they like to add them!). It is also important to stay consistent. What this means is that it is important to note that your domain is coherent and consistent with which one is the official domain. If you have multiple domain names don’t jump between www and a naked http scheme.
When you should use it
It should be noted, if you have additional sub-domains and elect the help of cookies for data collection/retention, you may want to keep that www as your main URL, even if it’s behind the scenes. Without it, a single cookie will be dropped over your complete domain, and therefore visitors to blog.graydientcreative.com would register the same as graydientcreative.com visitors. Now… did someone say cookies?
When you should lose it
If you have no sub-domains and know that anyone trying to access another prefix will understand the missing connection, it is safe to say you can remove the w’s as you wish. If your website has several subdomains associated to your main domain, such as blog.graydientcreative.com, then using www would be the best way to manage your URL scheme. The DNS records for your website become more difficult to update and manage when you have multiple subdomains that use a naked domain. This is usually done by manually updating the CNAME Record of your current host.
In a world of web equality, people should be allowed to choose whether or not they are a www user – and so long as your site is properly configured, that decision will remain their own.
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Interested in working with us? Contact our team today about building your next website – with or without the www.