I recently read an article from Mads Kristensen (http://madskristensen.net/post/url-rewrite-and-the-www-subdomain). He was posting regarding using a url rewrite for IIS and the use of a subdomain.
After reading the article and viewing some info regarding the two camps of “use WWW” and don’t use “www”. I could not help but reflect on my own experiences.
For years, I been fortunate to both build websites and host websites. It always amazed me when people did not understand a simple system like a domain name, even developers.
How do you type in a URL
Regardless of how you stand it this, Google and the modern browser has really changed how the end users view of how a website works. The ablity in chrome to just type in a search into the address bar has made some of the education regarding the web even harder. Even Internet explorer allows you to type any phrase into the address bar and it will then send you off to bing. The modern browser does it’s best to determine if the string entered in the address field is a fully qualified URL (or just a site) or a query.
To understand the reason for using www you need to know a little of the terms. There are a few components to understand a domain, a sub-domain, and top-level domain. I’ll use my domain name as an example: (www.jimiz.net)
- TLD – .net
- Domain = jimiz
- URL is normally the combination of TLD and Domain = jimiz.net
- Subdomain = www
There are many reasons to use a www for a web site. Part of the original web desiginated the use of each address “www” world wide web and allowed for other addresses like “Mail or ftp” (mail.jimiz.net or ftp.jimiz.net)
As the web became more consumer driven and marketing stepped in. I can remember when using prodgey or netscape you needed to add the entire fully qualified domain name including the protocol. Example: http://www.yahoo.com. If you did not specify http:// the browser or system did not know what to do. Things have changed and just for marketing and ease of use, you can see “yahoo.com” everywhere. It is missing the “http”//” and “www”.
I have always been a firm believer in using “www”. In particular from a hosting perspective when you want to use CDN networks or even just multiple server names “www1.yahoo.com or www2.yahoo.com”. The addition of short domains like bit.ly (Lithuanian TLD) people have become accustomed to not looking at website as just a www.
What to do
There are many ways to address the name of your domain. I still think you should allow access on both a Naked domain “jimiz.net” and a fully qualified domain “www.jimiz.net”. In the case of jimiz.net I don’t follow this pricipal. When I started this blog I used “blog.jimiz.net” and in the process of hosting sites I messed up the domain. I now have a naked domain that the “www.jimiz.net” forwards to.
I use the .htaccess and rewrite method. In most of my development I use the IIS rewrite rules to address this.
Any way you choose, people are just going to start typing into the address bar. So work on your SEO.