What’s wrong with no-www

There is a rising debate regarding the use or omission of “www” for website addresses. For instance, should a company use “http://widgets.com” or “http://www.widgets.com”? The debate is debate is getting somewhat heated in some venues, and there is even an organization advocating the omission of “www”. We have a problem with this.

We don’t have technical objections.

We don’t have SEO objections.

We don’t have content objections.

We don’t have objections to the idea that removing it simplifies things.

Our objection stems from one of the most important factors of all: recognition. When you pass a billboard, see a commercial, or view an advertisement on the side of a bus, your eye / brain look for particular visual cues. One of these is to notice a website’s domain name because of the characteristic “www” prefix. Yes, including “.com” at the end helps, but some/many organizations don’t own “.com” domains, and even if they do, don’t you as a site owner want to make it as easy as possible for users to automatically notice your domain?

We see stop signs without looking for them (usually). We notice a baby’s cry above the other din in a restaurant. We notice store signage while ignoring most elements of storefronts. We are wired to do this, and presumably you put URLs in advertisements to get noticed/remembered. Why not take advantage of this natural pattern recognition to help potential customers see the URL? Doesn’t the business benefit of having more people know how to find you outweigh any argument for excluding “www” from your domain name?

Websites should use or at least always accept both formats. Regardless of which you choose, someone will always try the other.

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2 Responses to “What’s wrong with no-www”

  1. Josh Freedman Says:

    If you’re wondering how to configure your website so that it automatically redirects non-www to www domains, an excellent discussion and examples can be found at http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=5644.

  2. Josh Says:

    The specification that either www or non-www is preferred (as opposed to both) is referred to as “domain canonicalization.”