UK Government Digital Service advises against naked domain names

Written by Sam Trendall on 4 December 2017 in News

The UK Government has told public sector entities to keep ‘www’ in their website URLs

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Updated UK Government advice has instructed public sector bodies that they must keep the ‘www’ prefix in the URL of their website.

The www prefix has long been used as a label to differentiate internet locations hosted in a web server from other locations, such as a server for mail or file transfers.

But newly registered sites can choose to eschew this convention and use a so-called ‘naked domain’, without a www prefix.

But, in its guide for creating, registering, and naming a new gov.uk website, the UK Government Digital Service has added new guidance on making it clear that government URLs must retain the three-letter prefix. 

“The preferred public-facing URL cited in official documents must always include ‘www’,” GDS said.

“It is acceptable to drop ‘www’ for marketing purposes, for example nametowncouncil.gov.uk.

“However, the domain name with ‘www’... must work as an address.”

In addition to any branding benefits, using a www domain name does make have some technical advantages, such as making it easier to serve visitors to a website with cookies. 

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