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Naked Domains

Gradually over the last decade or so, URLs on the World Wide Web have been ditching the www prefix for their domain sans www, otherwise known as naked domains. Opinions for and against this recent trend have been somewhat split.

One of the only real reasons to still use the www in a URL is if a website collects and stores cookies. Cookies are used to store a persons previous activity on a website. The type of information stored in cookies would be if a user was logged in to their account, had items in a shopping cart, had previously visited pages, etc. The argument regarding cookies is that when cookies are set on the naked domain they will be set on all subdomains and subdirectories as well, potentially slowing down page load times with each HTTP request. However, cookies are extremely small text files usually no more than a few hundred bytes, with the maximum file size for any cookie being no larger than 4 kilobytes. To put that in perspective, the average size of a logo on a website is about 16K and it takes about 135 milliseconds for the browser to download it. So even if a site did collect cookies (many smaller websites do not), and with cookies being sent with each HTTP request (requests for javascript, css, image files downloaded by the browser, etc.), the additional transfer of a few hundred bytes would go virtually unnoticed.

Another argument for keeping www is that SSL certificates (Secure Socket Layers) will only work on either a www website or a non-www website, not both at the same time. While this was the case prior to 2006 (which in the dog years of web equates to 30 years ago), these days it is simply not true. Secure Socket Layers certificates will work secure both www and non-www domains.

So Drop The WWW

We don’t recommend the use of www in URLs for a few reasons:

  • One, adding www to a URL doesn’t work well for Twitter. Tweets can only be 144 characters long so if you want people to tweet about your site, keeping the URL short and sweet is a good thing.
  • Two, dropping the www is the current trend in the web world. Thousands upon tens of thousands of websites on the internet today do not use the www prefix, largest among them is Twitter itself. Twitter does not use www and also uses SSL for secure web browsing on their site.These are all the reasons why we recommend dropping www. Keep in mind that if a person happens to type www into their browser they will be redirected to your site sans www with virtually zero latency.
  • Three, unless your site is massively large with 1000+ pages (i.e. Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox) and collects and stores all sorts of information in cookies then you will never have to worry about the potential latency caused by setting cookies on the naked domain.

So get with the times, man! Drop that www and step into the modern World Wide Web.

Brent Stromberg
By Brent
Brent is the Web Manager at Uptown Studios. He joined the team in July of 2012 rearing to go and has become a front-end web development guru. His posts usually consist of snarky quips about 'user experience' or regales the reader about the coolest/latest web-nerd trends.