Making the World Wide Web an Easier Place to Talk About

by Tim Walton | May 2008 | Beginner's Guides MySQL Content Management Open Source PHP

If you were tasked with finding the letter that when spoken out loud repeatedly was more awkward than any other, you would come up with the W. Every other letter in the English alphabet is pronounced with a single syllable, yet the W is unique in requiring an impressive three syllables to utter.

This campaign is to encourage people to forget that WWW ever existed. Don’t type it, don’t speak it, and complain to every website that still requires it.

Why do we still use WWW?

If you were tasked with finding the letter that, when spoken out loud repeatedly, was more awkward than any other, you would come up with W. Every other letter in the English alphabet is pronounced with a single syllable, yet the W is unique in requiring an impressive three syllables to utter.

The irony is that ‘World Wide Web’ can be said in just three syllables, yet the abbreviation WWW encounters a tongue-twisting nine! How can any abbreviation take three times the effort to speak than the very words it is an abbreviation of!? ‘duh-bull-you duh-bull-you duh-bull-you’.

WWW is such a prolific term these days and so hard to verbalize that this abbreviation has been abbreviated further with phrases such as “dub dub dub” or “all the Ws”. Almost every website we use starts with WWW and mankind is desperately seeking a way to make the oration of these website addresses an easier and less embarrassing task.

The answer, you may be surprised to hear, is shockingly easy. Don’t uses Ws! Websites don’t need them, we don’t like to speak them, the internet will run equally well without them.

Addressing the Internet

A website address is made up of 3 key parts. Take for example www.google.co.uk

  • The google part combined with the .co.uk part makes up the domain name. When Google purchased this address they purchased google.co.uk, NOT www.google.co.uk.
  • The .co.uk part typically indicates the country, or type of domain (known as Top Level Domain or TLD).
  • The www part is a sub-domain that can indicate anything at all, or can even be omitted.

When a domain such as google.co.uk is purchased, it is the web developer who decides what sub-domains should be used, and by following convention and perceived wisdom they will normally opt for WWW. Why do they do this when they could use anything or even nothing at all? Why not w.google.co.uk, or web.google.co.uk or why not just google.co.uk?

Many web developers have seen the light and make sure that their websites work even when a sub-domain is omitted. Try browsing to google.co.uk for example, or yahoo.com, or digg.com, they all work just as well as the same domain names with the Ws.

Forward Slash is killing me

So now that we have freed up the sub-domain, let’s make some good use of it.

How many times have you heard an advert for a website followed by ‘forward slash deals’ or similar. Forward slash gives us another three syllable description of a single punctuation character. Easy to type, annoying to verbalize. It sounds either crude or demonic, and the alternative ‘stroke’ is equally cringe-worthy.

We like dots. DotCom is easy to say – and with sub-domains we can ditch the slashes and strokes in favor of the smallest punctuation mark with the shortest name. Try these examples...

www.google.co.uk/adwords contains 22 syllables yet adwords.google.co.uk just 10.

That’s less than half the time to read, less than half to remember and 17% less to type.

If your website sells cars and bikes, you might currently use www.123autos.com/cars and www.123autos.com/bikes. How much more succinct it would be to use 123autos.com for the main website, cars.123autos.com for the car pages, and bikes.123autos.com for the bike pages?

Drop ‘em

This campaign is to encourage people to forget that WWW ever existed. Don’t type it, don’t speak it, and complain to every website that still requires it.

Drop the forward slashes, strokes and hyphens too. The only punctuation that should be used is the mighty yet humble dot and to achieve this, sub-domains are your loyal friends.

Let’s make the World Wide Web an easier place to talk about.

About the Author :


Tim Walton is the Managing Director of Evesham Solutions Ltd. with over 13 innovative & years in application and internet development. A geek with social skills and a passion for customer care, razor sharp business skills and an ability to simplify the most complex of ideas – desperately seeking like-minded individuals to take on the world.

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