What does www mean in a website name

When you visit a website, chances are that you’ll prefix it’s name with characters “www” also pronounced as double-u double-u double-u. Most people don’t really understand why this is always the case and even that it’s not necessary sometimes!

Classically WWW means World Wide Web. In the early days of the internet, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented a means of sharing documents across a network of computers in 1989 at the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva. Networked Computers also known as servers ran 24/7 and they stored files or documents that anyone on the network could access. Tim called this system Word Wide Web or the Web in short.

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To navigate the web in order to access various documents, you needed a web browser. Tim built the first web browser back in 1990. Today the web is bigger than ever. We have major browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera that you can use to surf websites, search engines, portals, directories, social media sites, access email etc.

Lets talk about websites

Every website has a domain name which constitutes part of its address. Website name and domain name are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are different. Domain names can be used for not just hosting a website, but to read emails, host files online and access powerful servers by a human-friendly name instead of the numeric IP addresses.

To indicate that a domain name such as dignited.com is used to host a website, a sub-domain “www” is customarily created such that the fully qualified domain name for the website is www.dignited.com. So the prefix “www” is only a custom now that website owners prefix to their domain names. Also now most people are used to website names starting with “www”, the custom is further reinforced by each new website created on the internet.

Now because “www” is simply a subdomain the same way mail.google.com is a subdomain to google.com or web.facebook.com is a subdomain to facebook.com, don’t be confused when you see websites with remixed www aliases. For instance hp.com has www8.hp.com.

To www or not to www

Because www is simply a subdomain to the top-level domain name of a website, it’s safe to leave it out when you are entering a website name in the address bar of your browser. Normally a website will support both www and non-www addresses to their website. Twitter for instance doesn’t have www in the main address https://twitter.com but even though you prefixed it with www, it would still work but remove the “www” part. Facebook meanwhile will prefix “www” part even when you type facebook.com without it. So a properly setup website doesn’t care much as www in it’s address. It should work with or without it.

What about the http:// or https:// part? Well you can read our previous article that explains why every website address starts with them.

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