Web site or website?

Posted in Strategy on by David Cecil

We’re a firm that designs websites. Or, designs Web sites. We design things that go on the World Wide Web, but what the heck are people calling it these days?

In the many years that I’ve been in web design & graphic design industry, I’ve always preferred the term “website” when discussing a site on the web.  However, there’s always a small, easily-ignored voice in the back of my head telling me that Web site is the proper spelling (coupled with a small, easily-ignored need to be proper).  So, armed with my Google search bar, I went looking for a once-and-for-all answer.

And I didn’t find one.

It seems that in academic circles, the correct version is Web site, in support of W3 standards.  Sites like the Chicago Manual of Style Online also claim that Web site is the correct usage.  The best explanation I heard?  The World Wide Web is a proper name, and that is where these sites exist.  A site that exists on the World Wide Web as opposed to a site that exists in a spider’s web, maybe?  Better yet, when James invites Josh and I over to watch one of his dork movies, we go to James’s house and not jameshouse.

The OTHER side of the argument, and the side of the argument that I’ve decided to forever place my flag (note to self: I need a flag), is that website is fast becoming the more common usage and this evolution is the way of language. Essentially, the transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website is very similar to other technical terms that take different forms as they become more familiar.  For example, email has become the de facto expression, over the previously widely-used forms E-mail and e-mail.  So, while Web site might be a better choice for formal writing, website is hip for informal writing.  In fact, the Oxford Dictionary has already been updated to reflect website as the agreed upon form.

So, there you have it.  There now exists another article online that doesn’t answer yet the question, but it seems like “website” has the natural evolution of language on its side.