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What is an Official Website?

By H. Terry
Updated May 16, 2024
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An official website is one that has been sanctioned by an authority to represent itself or its properties online. Individuals, companies, governments, and other organizations can be such an authority. An official celebrity website, for example, could be one that has been authorized or created by the celebrity. It could not, however, be one that has been set up by a fan who has never asked the celebrity to acknowledge it as official.

Any kind of domain might be used by official websites. Top-level domains, such as .com, .org, or .edu, are the most common. An official website for a government entity will frequently identify itself as sanctioned by that government with a specific second-level domain — .gov.ca, for example, is owned and managed exclusively by the government of Canada. The United States is the only country in the world whose government uses its own restricted top-level domain, .gov, for this purpose.

Another top-level domain controlled by the US government is .edu. This is used by post-secondary institutions that have been accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education. In other nations, second-level domains are often used to indicate higher educational institutions. The UK's .ac.uk is one example of this.

Official websites vary in terms of their purposes. An official website might be primarily commercial, educational, news- or entertainment-related, governmental, or have another or a mixed objective. A commercial site belongs to a company that has created the site to help sell its products or services, for instance. The official website of an educational institution is often both promotional as well as informational, and several institutions have also integrated learning features into their sites.

Many older types of news sources — such as newspapers, magazines, and television or radio broadcasting — now also deliver news via an official website. Most governments today use official sites to communicate with their citizens as well as within their own departments, to collect information or provide forms, and to organize activities. In the case of a very large organization, it is perhaps most common that organization leaders seek to accomplish a variety of goals by launching an official website.

In some cases, an official website might be launched simply to provide an air of professionalism. In many countries, people now tend to expect major organizations and public figures to have official websites. Some people might even question the status or value of a business that lacks an online presence.

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Discussion Comments
By cafe41 — On Jul 14, 2011

@Subway11 - I do that too. I think that sometimes if you really love a television show or a movie, you might want to go to their websites to get more information on the movie and find out little tidbits about how it was filmed.

Some of these websites might even include a forum for fans to interact with each other which makes the experience more fun. I think that the challenge is finding the official website because many of these celebrities have many websites.

I think for example if you are interested in the television program Twilight, then you can go to the Twilight official website or the Stephenie Meyer official website in order to find out information on the latest press releases and when their new season will begin.

When you search for the individual celebrity, it might make it harder to find their official website. You should try using the television programs's name or movie first. This is what I usually do.

By subway11 — On Jul 14, 2011

@ddljohn- I agree with you. You really have to have web presence especially if you are in the restaurant business because people can do a search on your town and you want your restaurant to be one of the ones listed in their search.

I also think that in a service business offering testimonials on the website might really sway people into visiting a business that they were considering.

For example, if I am looking for a new stylist or a restaurant, I will typically look for online feedback from the local websites before I would even consider using the business.

If most of the reviews are good, then I will visit the official website and learn what I can about the business before I buy from them.

By ddljohn — On Jul 13, 2011

@anamur-- I completely agree with you! That is right on!

My brother is running our small family restaurant. My dad used to run it before and when my dad passed away, he took over. We have had the restaurant for about forty years and we have established our place in town. We have enough loyal customers that we wouldn't lose business without a website. This has been my brother's argument for not opening one.

I insisted that we get one anyway. I said we could put up our menu, post about specials, and have our contact information there. I also wanted to have a page about our family history and how my dad started the restaurant.

I finally got my brother to agree and it has benefited us so much! We have new customers now that heard about us from friends, looked up our site and decided to try it when they saw the menu! An official website really makes a big difference for businesses- large or small.

By ysmina — On Jul 12, 2011

I think an official website says something about a company's or even an individual's status and future goals. I think someone who has an official site is probably more interested in working internationally then someone who isn't.

And official sites usually have options for viewing in different languages and using different currencies if they are selling something. Unofficial websites are usually not so technical and don't look as good in general.

I guess a lot of it has to do with the cost of keeping up an official site. Official sites have to have original and unique urls like .org or .com, so it must cost more to establish that. They also employ a webmaster that manages the site. Only organizations and companies that have continuous operations and profit can put up these websites.

The quality of the website shows that. Even if you weren't checking the url to see if it was official, you can probably tell from the look of it whether it is official or not.

By serenesurface — On Jul 12, 2011

I agree that having an official website is more about professionalism these days. A company that doesn't have an official website is sort of like a businessman who doesn't have business cards.

I have come across many websites belonging to a cosmetics brand or health products brand. Even if they have not started doing online sales or do not sell in a certain country, they still have a website to inform people about their products. It also gives people a trusted way to communicate with that company if they want to.

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