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Guideline for use of short-form URLs and generic aliases for WCMS websites

Short-form URL

If necessary, sites in the WCMS can have a short-form redirect, which follows after the uwaterloo.ca domain name.  This short-form would be an abbreviation or acronym that is typically associated with that particular organizational unit.  Any additional paths that come after the short-form will also be included in the redirect.

Examples:

Short-form URL (in bold)

Redirects to

uwaterloo.ca/ahs

uwaterloo.ca/applied-health-sciences

Short-form URL with path         

Redirects to

uwaterloo.ca/ahs/fun-run

uwaterloo.ca/applied-health-sciences/fun-run

Requesting a short-form URL

A short-form URL is obtained by request only, since it falls under the uwaterloo.ca domain name.  Setup is done by IST and Digital Initiatives, which will provide oversight and consulting on the use of short-form URLs.  This is to avoid conflicts and keep short-form URLs meaningful, relevant, and within the best interests of the University as a whole. 

Typically, only one short-form URL should be used.  However, exceptions can be made depending on website needs. Note that a website’s former subdomain can also be a deciding factor in determining a relevant short-form URL, and attempts will be made to be as flexible and accommodating as possible.

The Domain Name Conflict Resolution[1] process can be used if short-form URL conflicts arise.

Since any additional paths after the short-form URL are included in the redirect, these can be setup and controlled by the site manager, and no longer requires involvement from IST or Digital Initiatives.

Use of a short-form URL

Short-form URLs should be used whenever a canonical URL is too long or does not make sense, such as providing short, easy-to-remember URLs in print publications, text-only emails and radio campaigns.

Short-form URLs should only redirect to websites within uwaterloo.caShort-form URLs should never redirect to external websites.  If a link to an external website needs to be provided, then provide the direct link to that website instead, or create a placeholder page which then links out to the external website.  This ensures consistency and trust: anyone accessing a uwaterloo.ca URL will always go to a uwaterloo.ca website.
 

Generic alias

For the purposes of this guideline a generic website alias URL is any alias or redirect url which:

  • resides in the root of the uWaterloo website (e.g. uwaterloo.ca/generic),
  • is a word or phrase describing an event, activity or intent of the website which is different from the site title or primary organizational affiliation,
  • is not an acronym of the affiliated organizational unit (e.g. uwaterloo.ca/win for uwaterloo.ca/institute-nanotechnology) as this is covered by the short-form URL.

New domains or subdomains  (e.g. generic.uwaterloo.ca) will not be considered or approved without going through the approval process for external domain names as outlined in Management of campus domain names.

Examples:

Short-form URL

Redirects to

uwaterloo.ca/conrad

uwaterloo.ca/conrad-business-entrepreneurship-technology

uwaterloo.ca/games

uwaterloo.ca/games-institute

Requesting an alias

An alias can be requested via rt@uwaterloo.ca as part of a WCMS migration and will be assessed by the WCMS team in conjunction with Marketing & Strategic Communications within 1 business day.

Use of a generic alias

A generic alias will be recommended for use if:

  • the alias directs to the homepage of the affiliated site,
  • the word or phrase used is clearly associated with the destination site as expected by the user,
  • there is significant pre-existing association with a short form word or phrase,
  • there is no significant concern of future conflict arising.

Generic aliases will not be recommended for use for:

  • Shortened or convenience urls for use in print publications or social media in the absence of other criteria.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques such as exact match domains.
  • Directing to an internal site page.

Resolving conflicts for short-form URLs and generic aliases

Any conflicts or challenges requiring escalation will follow the path outlined in the recommendations made by the Domain Name Resolution subcommittee (https://uwaterloo.ca/web-advisory-committee/projects/domain-name-resolution-subcommittee).

A list of short-form URLs and generic aliases will be posted on the Web Resources Website at (URL TO BE DETERMINED) and updated monthly.


Taken from: Website URL Redirects - Guidelines and Recommendations

Comments or questions, please contact Joe Kwan, Digital Initiatives (MSC).