I have no idea if you are old enough to remember, I certainly am, every web address began with “www”. Those three W’s, standing for “World Wide Web,” once told nearly every human being exactly where they were going. But as the internet has evolved, the once-ubiquitous “www” seems to be fading into the background. This leads us to the question: Do we still need the “www” prefix in our web addresses?
A Brief History of ‘www’.
The “www” prefix was never a technical requirement; it was a convention. In the early days of the web, web servers were often set up as subdomains of larger domains. For instance, a university might have its main website at “www.university.edu” and its FTP server at “ftp.university.edu.” The “www” prefix made it clear you were accessing the web server.
The Shift Away from ‘www’.
As web technologies and user behaviours have evolved, many websites have moved away from using the “www” prefix for several reasons:
1. **Simplicity**: A shorter URL is easier to remember, type, and share. “domain.com” is more concise than “www.domain.com.”
2. **Mobile Usage**: With the rise of smartphones and mobile browsing, shorter URLs have become preferable due to the limited screen space.
3. **Modern Browsers**: Modern web browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox often hide “www” in the address bar or treat it as redundant, making it less necessary for users to type.
However, while many websites redirect “www” to their root domain (or vice versa) to provide a seamless user experience, there are some technical considerations:
1. **Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)**: Ensuring both versions (with and without “www”) resolve to the same content is crucial. Failing to set this up correctly can lead to duplicate content issues, potentially impacting search rankings.
3. **CNAME Records**: Some Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) or third-party platforms might require the use of “www” for easier CNAME record setups.
So, Do We Need ‘www’?
From a user perspective, the “www” prefix is no longer as essential as it once was. Many brands and websites choose to drop it for a sleeker, more modern feel. However, from a technical standpoint, the decision to use “www” should be based on specific website needs and infrastructure considerations.
In conclusion, while the “www” prefix might seem like a relic of the early web, its relevance today is less about convention and more about technical requirements. Whether you choose to use it or not, ensure that your decision aligns with both your brand image and your technical infrastructure needs.
In a nutshell, in most situations it should not matter at all if you use it or not. Wow, I could have started with that! It’s a nice bit of trivia and history though.