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Does www Matter?

Phil Tomlinson, Head of Development

You may notice that some websites force the use of www in front of their domain names, such as Facebook, and some do not, such as Twitter. While this probably goes unnoticed for most users I always wondered if there were any benefits or pitfalls of either way.

The term WWW is an abbreviation of World Wide Web, the unimaginable project realised by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991, whereby a system of hypertext documents, links and images could be accessed by anyone around the world with an Internet connection. For over twenty years it has purely been a convention to place world wide websites on a domain prefixed with www.

During its birth the World Wide Web was initiated as a knowledge-sharing platform. I suspect nobody could have envisaged the uses we have for it today; advertising, shopping, gaming and life-sharing are all main features that are taken for granted and have become as important to people as knowledge-sharing.

With that in mind and the speed at which people want to access websites there is a need to cut valuable time and effort in all walks of life on the Internet. This also includes cutting out www from website addresses. When telling people to go to certain websites saying twitter.com is far easier than saying www.twitter.com! I often get asked “Is that www?”; would it not be easier for everyone to completely forget the www part completely?

While there is actually no technical merit to using www or not using it at all the merits are drawn from realising your target audience and how they find you. If you’re selling something, using TV adverts, or just need people to tap the address into the browser address bar quickly then perhaps omitting www from your website address is probably a good idea. If people find you mostly via search engines or other means then there is certainly no harm in keeping the traditional www part of your website address. Some websites may prefer a face of tradition and a loyalty to the www convention.

Whichever way is best for your website it is important to remain consistent. domain.com and www.domain.com are treated as separate websites and, while that can cause SEO-related problems with duplicate content, it can also confuse the important ones – your visitors!

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