Saying goodbye to the www

Mike Taylor | 27 August 2019
no more https or www in address bar of chrome browser

A white rectangle awaits your command. A blinking line that asks:

What’s today?  

Nothing. Anything. Everything. 

So engrained into our everyday that it’s almost an extension of the hand, the address bar has been through a lot in its time. Serving us delights from the net since 1989, www and https, its loyal comrades.

2018. The World Cup. The ‘Yanny’ vs. ‘Laurel’ debate. A massive Australian cow. Sure. But also the year that Google tried to remove what it called “trivial subdomains” like ‘www’ or ‘m.’ to display only the root domain in the address bar. 

What the search giants hadn’t anticipated was the outcry, the rage! The www had carved a crevice into our lives. Our hearts. We liked it. Nay, we loved it.

Google undid the feature. 

The www wasn’t going down without a fffight.

But then, neither was Google.

2019. Chrome 76 is here. https and www? Not so much.

In fact, Google Chrome users who have upgraded the stable version may have noticed the absence of the subdomain faves. 

‘The Chrome team values the simplicity, usability, and security of UI surfaces’ says Google engineer, Emily Schechter, ‘To make URLs easier to read and understand, and to remove distractions from the registrable domain, we will hide URL components that are irrelevant to most Chrome users.’

Tech giants are continually questioning purpose. Casting their redundancy wand upon the old timers, legacy or no legacy. 

So, that’s it? Saynora? Not quite. Chrome users can click twice in the URL bar to display the full address of the page. So it’s there. But hidden. Easter-egg styley.

Another bump in the road is when a site uses www exclusively. If there is no redirect, you’re looking at a 404, which is bound to grind some teeth.

Alas, Google are stern on this one and rolling full steam ahead with the change on desktop and Android. So, unless we’re taking to the streets, it’s pretty unlikely they’ll revert the change a second time round. 

Virtual clutter? Maybe. But what’s left when there’s nothing left?