To WWW Or Not To WWW

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, August 08, 2008 at 09:47 AM with 0 comments

Do you need to include the “www.” when displaying a URL? This was a recent topic on Seth Godin’s blog, and reading various other blog posts and articles on the topic, the general consensus is you do not need to include the www-dot before a domain name. When someone sees a domain name all by itself, they assume it’s a Web site. But does it mean that every time you enter just a domain name you will get the Web site?

Unfortunately the answer to this is no. And it has nothing to do with marketing or how much room you have to display a domain name. It has to do with Web server and network configuration.

Here’s an example of where leaving out the www-dot will not show you the Web site. Berkshire Hathaway is the multi-billion dollar empire of Warren Buffett. Though he hangs out will his fellow top-tier billionaire Bill Gates, he shuns technology whenever possible. Berkshire Hathaway does have a Web site, albeit extremely simple. If you browse to it at http://www.berkshirehathaway.com you will be presented with the Web site. However, leave off the www-dot going to http://berkshirehathaway.com and you get an error.

The www-dot in question is called a subdomain, and is used to identify various types of servers on a domain. If you have ever configured Outlook or an email program with an email server, you probably entered a server name beginning with mail-dot. As a result, using – and not using – the www-dot subdomain needs to be configured. It needs to be addressed within the network domain configuration as well as the Web server or servers. It must be configured and tested properly, as leaving off the www-dot can be configured to take you to an altogether different Web site!

Why not take this time to check your own Web sites and blogs to see if they pass the test of leaving off the www-dot. And while you’re at it, check your vendors, partners and even competitors. Good luck telling them if doesn’t work – I emailed Berkshire Hathaway over a month ago when I first saw this problem, and it still exists.


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