Removing the Ws from URLs

A completely self-servient posting: My article on removing the Ws from URLs (why you would/should want to, and how) is up on Webword. There's also some discussion over there about it, and I'd appreciate any feedback.

On a broader scale, this is just the first in a large group of the things I've been thinking about lately in the realm of extending usability beyond just usability at the page level for the user, and really talking about the entire user experience, encompassing things like URL design, email language/phrasing, usability on the backend (i.e. usability of content management), external search usability (designing for and controlling relevance -- not just popularity or ranking -- on external [not on your site] search engines), etc. Does this make any sense? There's a lot more to it than where the links go and what the sections are labelled (an admittedly simple definition) but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of focus on it.

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wuh-wuh-wuh or dubya-dubya-dubya?

"WWW," as I'm sure everybody knows, is one of those legacy holdovers from when the "web" was just one of many protocols on the Internet. Well, it still is, actually. But the point is, it was and is a nifty way to separate out URL's so that different protocols and services have separate subdomains. is different from and Different protocols, ports, etc. You had to specify because otherwise your browser might switch to ftp protocol or something else. The idea that the "www" would be the *default* place to visit at your domain didn't occur to anyone until much later!
WWW was very usable for old internet-heads, because it was easy to type...the name "World-Wide Web" (an awkward construct, and hard to say) has always annoyed me though. Since nowadays it seems so redundant.... like, "well of *course* it's World-Wide!"
But it's bugged to me even since I started on the web with lynx. I've always wished it had just been "web" not "www" because people have to say it out loud so much.
I think the same problem is extant with the top-level domains... the whole idea behind having "dot-com, dot-org, dot-net" has been completely lost. (Remember when a 'dot-com' was kind of rare and the 'net was ruled by 'dot-edu's?)
Here's how it feels to me: it feels like having to share the interstate with truckers and emergency vehicles. It seems like all that should have its own infrastructure, but it doesn't... thing is, I used to be a 'trucker' and I've drifted more into being just a regular user... hell, this metaphor is falling apart. Never mind.

andrew hinton ::


>I've always wished it had just been "web" not "www" because people >have to say it out loud so much.

Anyone else remember a number of abortive attempts to abbreviate it to "dub-dub-dub" ? The last time I saw this was at least 3 years ago, though.

"Dub-dub-dub" is pretty bad, but not as bad as "wuh-wuh-wuh"...


dub dub dub

A few years ago, a fellow site developer I worked with loved (sarcastic grin) when the IT temps that Sapient used would say "dub-dub-dub". We got a kick out of how hilariously nerdy it sounded, and proceded to precede all URLS with... Go to "dub-dub-dub" blah blah blah. ... Uh huh.

and yet...

Well (writing from the South) of COURSE it's "dubya-dubya-dubya."

So the usability gained by reducing "WWW" from 9 syllables to only 3 is handicapped by the general opinion that it makes you look like an idiot.

Whereas reducing it to two restores some dignity.

Balancing user needs with the marketing department: same difference.

Interesting discussion on Web

Interesting discussion on WebWord. I'm not sure I know what the best approach is now, after reading Jeff's great article and reading the differing opinions on WebWord. For what it's worth, I used to force the server to redirect to because I was using some crazy server set up where only 1 of my several domains had an IP address, and the others were redirected to subdirectories (it's a crazy cheapo solution that I can tell you about if you're interested). That's why it used to be Anyway, when I moved servers, I took out redirect statements in my .htaccess, allowing access to or without redirecting the URL. It works both ways, and I don't see the harm in entering it either way, but I do think it's good policy to show your URL in print without the www's. ... I think.

Removing is an option

Setting the ability to not have the www in an address is a benefit. Using this as the default is problematic, which I captured some downsides on my site If I am pointing somebody to my website I use the www, but if I am talking about the whole of, which includes mail and ftp, I leave it off. My last hosting company had a mail interface at I also have many subdomains that I use for various purposes, which are prefixes to the (such as for my development area). Just thoughts.


I've heard a few people during the past year refer to "WWW" as "w3" (dubya-three). Ok, perhaps that is a method to reduce the syllables (or to imply a great knowledge of the Web), but I am glad w3 has not caught on because "dubya-three" is annoying.