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Some People Think Is Always Offline

Do you type the www. whenever you want to visit a site? No? Well, you are not alone.
Just as we learned that we didn’t need to say “http://” when promoting a domain, many marketers are now dropping the www as well.
And since most sites are set up to redirect users to the web site even without the www, people are learning they can cut out four keystrokes by skipping the “dub-dub-dub”.
But what happens if _your_ web site isn’t configured correctly?
You end up turning customers away like the TD Bank has been doing for years now.
Try going to “”: – here’s what you see: Unavailable image
Loads of visitors will look at this message and assume that their site is down (or has been hacked or something).
Some might guess that TD just mis-configured their servers and try again with the www but the vast majority will assume the site is down.

Even if only a few thousand people over the course of a year do this, what kind of an impression does it leave on those people when they get this message? “Their site is down? I’m not sure I want to trust them with my money then!” Or (in this case), “maybe they don’t want *me* at their site – it says I’m not authorized. But I have an account there – did they lose it?”
So here’s something for you to do *right now* – type all your domains without the www and see what you get. If you don’t get your official site, you know what you’re working on this afternoon!


  1. ian
    ian January 30, 2006

    This is a one-line fix in Apache and something that every self-respecting web admin should do right away:

  2. roar
    roar January 31, 2006

    It continues to amaze me that this still happens. In the late 90’s there was a trend to start market URLs without the WWW. At the financial institution where I worked we discussed if we should do the same and decided to try it out. But we made sure both options actually worked on the Domino server we used back then.
    We later decided to put the WWW back into our marketing materials based on feedback from the customers – the WWW was what made them understand that this was a web site address.
    One should think that financial institutions would make sure that such simple things are taken care of. TD is not the only one with a usability issue. A while back I tried to check my Bank Of Montreal MasterCard statements only to eventually find they had shut the site down for a whole night of maintenance. I had to call MasterCard to figure this out. No message on the site, something that should have been very simple to implement.
    roar at roarweb dot com

  3. Ken Schafer
    Ken Schafer January 31, 2006

    Thanks for telling everyone what I meant by “a few lines of code”!

  4. Ken Schafer
    Ken Schafer January 31, 2006

    Great input – thanks.
    You wrote – “the WWW was what made them understand that this was a web site address.”
    I think that was probably true back in the late 90’s as you mentioned but I hope it’s not true anymore.
    I’m wondering if anyone has done any testing or research to find out if marketing urls are better with or without the www.

  5. Harry Teitelbaum
    Harry Teitelbaum February 1, 2006

    Thanks for clearing up that frustrating issue. I have been a TD online user for years and am forever frustrated at having to type in

  6. Ryan - RFD
    Ryan - RFD February 2, 2006

    I’m a little disappointed that TD hasn’t fixed this since it was posted here…

  7. Chris P.
    Chris P. February 3, 2006

    I am so happy you pointed this out. I’ve provided other similar tales of dumb misconfigurations in this entry.

  8. Eric D.
    Eric D. February 8, 2006

    I don’t know why, but a lot of big institutions have this problem. They should have the “top of the line” administrators.. anyways.
    When you want to go to AccesD service from Desjardins for example ( look what you get.. nothing! ) but this is a real subdomain. It is only accessible thru https:// but no redirection at all if i enter in my address bar.

  9. Tristan
    Tristan March 6, 2006

    I agree with roar .. “the WWW was what made them understand that this was a web site address.”
    We went through the same excercise and found that staff as well as clients felt more comfortable entering the “www…”
    IMO – Removing the “www” works for companies that do not have several sub-brands.

  10. sanjeeth
    sanjeeth July 9, 2006

    I guess TD did eventually get to addressing that issue. Its working now.

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