I recently wrote a piece about why we need to abandon the use of “www” both in speech and in technical implementation. The overwhelming response led me to wonder how the business world was handling the issue. How do the “serious” companies deal with requests that don’t include the “www” prefix?
I started with the 2007 Fortune 500 list and sampled the first 50 (the Fortune 50) by querying them without the www prefix, i.e. by domain.tld rather than www.domain.tld. Here are the results.
- 30 out of 50 (60%) redirected to the www version of the site. [Bad]
- 17 out of 50 (34%) accepted the requests as-is. [Best]
- 3 out of 50 (6%) failed completely. [Worst]
These results show that the business world understands that accessing sites without the “www” prefix should be supported, with only 6% failing to handle the requests. Most companies either answered as requested or redirected to the www-version. This further supports my claim that users should drop the practice of using “www” when typing URLs on their computer and when communicating website addresses to others.
Using “www” is simply not necessary for the vast majority of web sites. Typing it is a waste of time, printing it wastes ink and materials, and pronouncing it alone takes longer than saying most website domains themselves (9 syllables for three characters?). Just stop using it.
Of course, the ideal situation is the opposite — where the “www” requests are redirected to the non-www URL. This helps with SEO, caching, certificate domain issues, and gives users a single convention to remember.
That’s the ideal, but I suppose we have to take small steps.:
— Here are the companies that were compliant:
daniel@hermes ~ $ cat fortune | grep ^y
y merrill lynch
y united technologies
And here are the companies that failed:
daniel@hermes ~ $ cat fortune | grep ^f