To www or not to www? (hint: you should do both)

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01Oct2010

To www or not to www? (hint: you should do both)

  • By Andrew Garrett
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Many people don’t understand how internet addresses (which are more correctly called URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators) work.

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While it’s common practise (for historical reasons, which I won’t go into here) for a website address to start with “www”, they don’t have to. It’s simply a convention. They could start with anything at all, or even just have the domain name itself (without the www. in front).

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You’ll notice here, that if you type in the address “www.pragmetric.com”, you turn up at our site. After the first time you click on a link, it magically changes so it starts with “http://pragmetric.com/”, removing the www. in the front. (ignore the http:// bit, that’s just your browser making sure it’s talking to the right process on the server where the website is hosted) Of course, we’re doing the right thing – both addresses work – with the www in front and without.

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(we also have pragmetric.com.au and www.pragmetric.com.au as well – but that’s something different, which we’re not going into in this post).

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What’s amazing, is how many sites don’t allow for this. It just doesn’t work. If you browse to http://bobsmiththebuilder.com.au, and the website is only set up for http://www.bobsmiththebuilder.com.au, then it just won’t work – you’ll get an ugly error message.

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It should work. It’s trivial (should take less than 5 minutes) to set up, and doesn’t cost any money. The people who implemented your website should have included it by default. The fact that they didn’t tends to make me question their very competence.

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Every person who tries to go to your web site to find something out about you, and meets a barrier of some sort, is a customer you’re one step closer to losing. Some people will give up after the first barrier. Others will struggle on a bit more, and might eventually get in touch.

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This is one of those little things that’s so easy to fix – one of those little value adds that having technical expertise on your business’s side provides. Sure it’s not a CIO’s job to fix these things – but it’s part of your business that your CIO (on-call or not) would take ownership of, and make sure it’s working right.

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