Make sure your site loads with and without "www."
Written by Richard Cropper, Director
Having moved to Gibraltar in 2007 one thing which has always surprised me is how when it comes to IT, Gibraltar, and indeed Spain, are far behind in various aspects, such as security, website design, email and general IT infrastructure. This is improving, but more can be done - especially for extremely simple solutions.
One of the most glaring issues I see everyday are popular websites from big companies which do not load unless you type in "www." before the domain. So for example, joebloggs.com won't load, but if you typed www.joebloggs.com, it would. Strange, but very common and this will ultimately reflect negatively on your business brand upon people trying to access your products or services in this manner.
Incorrect Settings Which Can be Easily Fixed
The issue is caused by incorrectly setup DNS (domain name server), which are the settings which control your website domain name such as "joebloggs.com". Usually DNS is controlled by either your hosting account or by your domain registrar, which is where you bought the domain itself.
It is the responsibility of your website designer to ensure your site loads with and without "www." - if there is an issue they should make whoever is responsible aware. I will explain how these settings can be changed to avoid this problem.
To keep things simple, on your domain registrar DNS settings you can simply point the "A record" (address record, basically it says where your site is hosted) to the IP of your website hosting, and also set a "www" record (normally shows as default) to the same IP as well. This way your site will load with or without "www".
If your hosting company has control of DNS of your domain name, then these settings are usually setup by default - and if not, then they can be edited there too.
Lost Traffic = Lost Clients = Lost £££
If people looking to go to your website directly by typing in "joebloggs.com", and it doesn't load - then the average user doesn't know or assume they will need to put "www" before it. Perhaps in 1997 this was a common issue as the web was in its infancy - but as the online market is so important these days you would expect modern day companies to have kept up with the times and adapted accordingly.
Lost traffic is never good for business. The internet is a modern day standard for browsing products and services online. You no longer need to be at your PC to use the internet as you can simply pick up your mobile or tablet and search online. If you try and go direct to a company you know of and the page doesn't load - you would assume they don't have a website. If you receive an email from a business and you see their company domain, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, you may want to look at their website and type in joebloggs.com. If it doesn't load - you would assume they don't have a website. Online browsing has an attention span of only a few seconds so during this time you need to have the client going directly to your business products or services. This is where it can become frustrating because businesses will be losing lost enquiries, clients and traffic which all leads to lost sales.
Popular Examples in Gibraltar and Spain
Some of the biggest companies in Gibraltar and Spain are guilty of this issue.
Firstly, we all know how popular the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper is. But going straight to chronicle.gi in your browser?.....
We all know of Hassans law firm... but again we see the same problem:
Mercadona.es in Spain is a terribly outdated website for online shopping (there isn't even images for products!) and they suffer from the same issue too:
This is unacceptable in these modern times when the internet is a common day use and is such a great selling tool for your business and I am sure there are many more examples to highlight this issue. These are simply examples from popular sites I have tried to visit myself without joy, unless using the "www." method instead.
If your website suffers from these errors, then speaking to any IT Support or Website Hosting company of your website should be able to resolve it. Should you need any help from Tiger too, then please drop us an email on email@example.com and we will do our best to explain what you need to do.