Monday, June 02, 2014

Can we drop the leading "WWW." please?

The "www." that preceded web addresses for 20 years is almost as misunderstood as the http:// that precedes it. Modern users of web browsers will note that both are dispensable.  You can enter into any browser and you will get to the right place.

The reason is relatively technical.  http:// is a protocol, which indicates what language you should be speaking if you open a connection to that server.  When on a web browser, the presumption is that you will be speaking HTTP, though you can also get ftp:// and even iTunes:// to work in a browser.

But www. is even murkier in history.  Technical there is nothing special about www. as you can see from URL's that have things like www3. in them. Unlike http://, it is not a magi word that is meaningful to the browser.  It is actually just a subdomain like any other. or  A subdomain is a matter of efficiency that lets traffic be routed to a different server for different purposes.  In the early days, it was helpful, sometimes even mandatory, that the web server be a different computer from, say, the FTP server or the SMTP (mail) server.  So if you didn't type it might not actually work at all.

Nowadays that is long gone, except for domains that are poorly configured, of which there may be a few -- but none that matter.

To all of you who are creating business cards, or painting your web site on the side of your truck, or worse of all, saying "double you double you double you" out loud on radio ads ... please just omit the www. (and the http://) and direct people to and be done with it.

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