Buying a domain name can be tough enough because of all of the extensions available. Do you go for the .com, the .biz or something totally different? I’m a fan of .com because it’s the most well known, but what about the front of your domain. Do you need to use www in your site URL?
I’ll cut to the chase — no, you don’t need www when sharing your website URL with anyone… assuming your domain is set up the right way + works with or without the prefix.
Do you need the www prefix
Back in the early days of the internet, this prefix stood for world wide web. Every single site seemed to use it + you could hear everyone saying “w w w dot” before listing off a website URL to visit.
In my opinion, we are a long ways away from those days. And requiring folks to type the extra letters is unnecessary. Which looks cleaner on business cards or in email signatures — www.tinyblueorange.com or tinyblueorange.com?
Short + sweet is best when it comes to URLs.
If you like the www, keep using it. But know that it’s a choice you’re making instead of feeling like it’s a requirement. And whether you use it or not, it’s a good idea to make sure both variations work for your website.
Setting up your site with + without the prefix
To figure out if you need to adjust your domain setup, open up a new browser window. Try visiting your site with + without the www in front. If they both work, technically you can stop here. If they don’t work, read on to fix it.
Whether the www version works or not has to do with your DNS (domain name system) settings. Head to the place you bought your domain from + find where these settings live.
If you bought it from a place like Bluehost, head to the “Advanced Zone Editor.” If you used GoDaddy, you can click on the domain you want to edit under your list of available domains. And for my fellow Hover users, go to the domain + then the DNS tab.
Now is when you’ll want to decide if you like the www or not. If you focus on the www, you’ll set that as the priority. If you want it to work but not be a part of your URL, you’ll set it up as a secondary setting.
Forcing the www to work
For any website that you want the www shown in the URL bar, make sure that the A Record points to your domain with the www listed.
As an example, I’d set my A Record to www.tinyblueorange.com.
The time to live (TTL) setting can be whatever your company allows, though I typically like 30-60 minutes. Once you’ve created/edited the A Record, save your changes.
Then add a new record called CNAME. The hostname should be @, the target should be www.yourdomain.com and the TTL can be 60 minutes or less. Save your changes again + you’re done!
Allowing the www to work
To let the www work without showing up in your website URL, set your A Record to your domain without the prefix in front of it. So the settings would be @ as the hostname, the value would be yourdomain.com (or an IP address if your hosting company requires that) + a TTL of 60 minutes or less.
Then add a new CNAME record. The hostname should be www, the target should be yourdomain.com + the TTL can be 60 minutes or less. Save your changes + you are all set!
Since you do not need the www in your URL, it’s up to you to use it or not. No matter what you decide, make sure that both options work so that users can find your WordPress website!