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Old 03-19-2008, 10:54 AM   #1
BobRoosth
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Default www required, or not

One of my clients called today to say that on her home computer the web browser (IE7) now requires www ahead of most URLs. Her work computer does not require this for the same URLs (her bank, adobe.com....).

A Google search turned up exactly one relevant page and it had no useful answer.

Any thoughts here?
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Old 03-19-2008, 12:23 PM   #2
Michael Rowley
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Bob:

Quote:
Any thoughts here?
Some browsers (e.g. Firefox) put in the the www if it’s needed, so adobe.com is converted to www.adobe.com; some sites do not need it (e.g. desktoppublishingforum.com).

   
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Old 03-19-2008, 12:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth View Post
One of my clients called today to say that on her home computer the web browser (IE7) now requires www ahead of most URLs. Her work computer does not require this for the same URLs (her bank, adobe.com....).

A Google search turned up exactly one relevant page and it had no useful answer.

Any thoughts here?
A few. I have been puzzling about this myself.

It is oddly difficult to get information on this from the web. Wikipedia was really unhelpful, though voluminous. It was as if this particular niggling little question was completely understood and not worth even a mention!

I did find two articles that summarized the issue usefully for me, both from the Webword web site:

Removing the Ws from URLs” (April 2002). The article includes methods by which webmasters (or their hosts) can fix their sites to work seamlessly without WWW.

Author Jeff Lash lists three categories as far as Ws are concerned:
  • Bad: The site works only with the Ws or only without the Ws. (Incidentally, it's usually the former.)
    .
  • Better: The site works with or without the Ws.
    .
  • Best: The site works with or without the Ws, but automatically removes the Ws if they are in the URL.

And this older article by John Rhodes: “Are You Creating a Path of Resistance?” (Sept. 1999) — and I do think that most hosts, sites, and browsers have improved since then — gives some historic perspective. It appears that banks, corporations, and universities were most likely to require that you type in the entire URL. At that time.

Most useful quote from that article:
… making a URL work with or without the "www" is easy. You should immediately ask your webmaster or web team to make this change. If you are the webmaster, go ahead and make the change! As web developers know, a simple change to the DNS entries will take care of this situation. Remember too that you can always redirect people to the "real" URL after they reach a site without the "www" …

   
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:08 PM   #4
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Good references, but the point here is from the browser end. For me, both IE7 and FF 2 show http://www.adobe.com after I enter adobe.com. On my client's home computer, adobe.com yields "page not found". I don't see anything in Options that would suppress the sites' redirect, but there must be something.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BobRoosth View Post
Good references, but the point here is from the browser end. For me, both IE7 and FF 2 show http://www.adobe.com after I enter adobe.com. On my client's home computer, adobe.com yields "page not found". I don't see anything in Options that would suppress the sites' redirect, but there must be something.
What I took from those articles is that if the site requires one configuration or another, you have little choice but to obey. If it is browser-dependent, then switch browsers.

But what do I know?

   
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:07 PM   #6
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The impetus now is to move away from including www. as it is the domain name itself which is important. A well configured server will allow sites to display with or without www., so whether www.domain.com or just domain.com is entered in the browser address box the site will display. Some old sites of mine have .htaccess in place to divert all users to see www. in the address bar, but that was set up for SEO purposes to avoid duplicate content penalities. Now Google's webmaster tools allow us to enter the url format we want Google to use for indexing so it is no longer a problem.

Interestingly, Internet Explorer 8 Beta displays urls in the address bar with http://www. greyed while the rest of the url is black. I find this makes it slightly easier to work out which site I am looking at.....

As for IE7 "requiring" www. - that suggests a problem, possibly with the user profile. The check for this is to log into the same PC as a different user and see if the same problem exists.

   
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:17 PM   #7
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As for IE7 "requiring" www. - that suggests a problem, possibly with the user profile. The check for this is to log into the same PC as a different user and see if the same problem exists.
Good thought. I'll have to ask for permission to create a new account, but don't know why not. She thinks this started after one of her college-aged kids used her computer. GOK what they might have done.
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:49 PM   #8
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I just enter adobe and then SHIFT + ENTER and it adds all the rest.

At one time there was another key combination -- like SHIFT + CTRL + ENTER -- which added .org or .net instead of .com

At the back of my mind is that there is an option tucked away somewhere but I don't see anything in IE7 Help except this in shortcuts:

Add "www." to the beginning and ".com" to the end of the text typed in the Address barCTRL+ENTER

   
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:32 PM   #9
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Default Browser configuration

It's not a browser that "requires" the 'www' to be specified - it's some websites themselves. And as pointed out: those that don't work without 'www' are just badly configured.

But most browsers have so defaults (configurable or not) for instance to add '.com' if no TLD is entered, and likewise to enter 'www' if a URL without it doesn't work (that is, the site exists and can be connected to but returns an error, like a 404 or possibly on in the 500 series).

Combine that: if the site requires 'www' to work, and the browser is not configured to automatically add 'www' if it doesn't, then it looks as if the browser "requires" 'www' - but it's the site at fault here, not the browser.

BTW, I've always followed the 'www-less' approach - it's not needed, and makes for a shorter and easier to type URL. Any form with 'www' will also automatically redirect to the www-less form (a 301 redirect). I've been doing it liek this for over 10 years now.

One of the main supermarket chains here recently redid their website. Invitations and actions to get people to visit it are all over the place, with the very short and sweet URL spelled out like 7 times all over a little "lottery" ticket they gave away at the checkout. This is what it says, all over the ticket, all over the stores: ah.nl. It doesn't work!!! How stupid is that?

   
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Old 03-20-2008, 03:34 PM   #10
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Did you intend that for Bob?

   
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