Is it website design or web site design? That’s a very good question. And it is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve searched it. I’ve looked it up in the online dictionaries. I’ve read blogs on the subject. What exactly is the correct usage of website … or web site? Here is what I’ve found.
Wipikedia.com and Dictionary.com suggest both “website” and “web site” as correct spelling options. The American Heritage Dictionary (dictionary.com) provided the following definition and usage note to my query:
web·site or Web site – (n) A set of interconnected webpages, usually including a homepage, generally located on the same server, and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group, or organization.
“Usage Note: The transition from World Wide Web site to Web site to website as a single uncapitalized word mirrors the development of other technological expressions which have tended to take unhyphenated forms as they become more familiar. Thus email is gaining ground over the forms E-mail and e-mail, especially in texts that are more technologically oriented. Similarly, there is an increasing preference for closed forms like homepage, online, and printout.”
I then went to search engine king, Google, to do a little hands-on research. The new tool Google trends revealed that the one word version of website, website design, or website designer was used twice as often as the two word version of web site, web site design, or web site designer. When performing a search on Google for the two word version “web site designer”, Google will ask “did you mean website designer” (one word). However, when you search for the single word version “website designer”, you are not asked if you meant “web site designer”. Interesting, don’t you think?
Using a popular search engine optimization tool, I received very similar results. A search for website design is searched for more than twice as many times as its two-word counterpart web site design. Surprisingly, this test also showed that a simplified version “web design” was used as a search query FOUR TIMES as often as the two word “web site design”.
The Chicago Manual of Style Online recognizes that a lot of people are writing and prefer the one word version “website” for informal and friendly writing. However, they recommend the two word version “web site” in more formal writing and usage, in recognition of the initiatives of the World Wide Web Consortium.
Upon using the Microsoft Word spell checker on this document, I was surprised to find that it picks up “web site” as a misspelled word. It’s suggested correct spelling? You guessed it – “website” as a single word.
It seems it really comes down to personal preference. As a web designer, I like to use the single word version “website”. Not only is it the current trend, but since I consider myself to be quite casual in style, both on-line and in person, it seems more appropriate. However, I think I’ll do some search engine optimization of my own and incorporate the phrase “web design” more often in my own work.