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UB Web Management

Transforming UB’s digital communications through process and tools

Redirects and Vanity URLs

Visitors can be automatically switched from one URL to another, using webserver redirects, UBCMS 'vanity URLs' and redirect pages, or third-party URL shorteners. These solve problems from previously published links or help to promote a alternate path to your pages.

On this page:

Please do not create Vanity URLs directly off www.buffalo.edu or that use someone else's URL without permission; i.e. a vanity URL that starts with ABC.buffalo.edu or www.buffalo.edu/ABC . Contact the UBCMS Help Team if you have any questions.

You can create Vanity URLs that use the URL of any sites that you manage; e.g. for the Forestry School, forestry.buffalo.edu/ABC or www.buffalo.edu/forestry/ABC .

Before you start, test out the Vanity URL in your browser to be sure it is not already in use, or already being redirected.

Overview

Any vanity URLs or redirect pages or redirect values set in page properties on UBCMS pages will never expire on their own.

There is another category we call "mapping rules" that EAS manages. These are pretty rare. I don't ever plan to expire any of those.

The last category you could call "redirect-only virtualhosts", which are "sites" where everything ___.buffalo.edu/* redirects somewhere else. These are the ones we use for transition. EIS would like these to be temporary as often as possible, so they don't have to look at as many files and so they can tell the DNS team to delete DNS records (I guess...?). They are reluctant to create these (only if they already exist is the policy), and would like a justification for how long they need to be around.  I believe at the moment, they will not give too much hassle if you ask for 1 year. I don't know where these actual rules are written down. (I suspect nowhere.) Despite all of this, I have never heard of them actually removing a single one.

Server Redirects

When you request a redirect, be sure to clarify if it is temporary (<= 1 yr) or long-term (3yrs plus), and expect to provide a business case.

There are two main types of redirects, normally set up as part of your original launch plan, or during a later relocation of your site.

  • Temporary 'road signs'
    • These handle site relocation (this page used to be here and old bookmarks are now broken).
    • These are appropriate for one year.
    • These must be defined in a section of the site launch plan.
    • Each redirect will have an owner and a sponsoring UWL/unit, like any other website.
  • Long-term 'road signs.'
    • These can be multi-year, but will be reviewed every three years to see if they are still needed.
    • These must have a strong business case to keep a major site or service findable.
    • The business case will be expressed in the site launch plan with sign off by UC;
      e.g. most other like schools use this format, or we need this to be more intuitive.
    • Each redirect will have an owner and a sponsoring UWL/unit, like any other website

There are two additonal, special categories:

  • 'Redirect-only virtualhosts'
    • These handle non-existing 'sites,' e.g. where everything ___.buffalo.edu/* redirects somewhere else.
    • We use these for transitioning sites, or to handle visitor expectations by redirecting from the expected URL to the actual site.
    • Normally these are created temporarily on the back end, during site launches based on special circumstances, or by special request, again for special circumstances.
  • 'Mapping rules'
    • These are only used in rare cases.

Vanity URLS

These are set up in the UBCMS and redirect traffic from one UBCMS page to another.  Any vanity URLs or redirect pages or redirect values set in page properties on UBCMS pages will never expire on their own.

Creating a Vanity URL

  1. Open the page you want visitors to land on (e.g., /content/www/your-site/the-preferred-page.html).
  2. In the Sidekick, go to the Page tab (or in the Website console, right click).
  3. Click Page Properties.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Scroll down to Vanity URL and click the triangle button to display the settings.
  6. Click the plus sign (+) and enter the UBCMS path of the page from which you are redirecting traffic;
    e.g., /content/www/your-site/bookmarked-page .
  7. To enter more than one Vanity URL – each must be on its own line.
  8. Select Redirect Vanity URL so the browser shows the actual location in its location bar (not the link that was clicked or entered to reach your page). While this is currently optional, we suggest you always select it.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Activate the page to enable it on your published site. (The Author environment should redirect immediately.)
  11. Be sure to test the redirect in your published site.
Click the plus sign and enter the URL of the page from which you are redirecting

When to Use 'Redirect Vanity URL'

The option to Redirect Vanity URL causes the browser to update the location bar so that it shows your preferred URL path instead of the URL that the visitor entered or clicked to arrive on your site.

Changing the URL in the location bar may be confusing to visitors, since they may not notice that the URL has changed, or appreciate why it has changed. However, this setting will encourage visitors to remember (and bookmark) your preferred URL.

While this is currently optional, we suggest you always select it. (Not selecting it may cause your page to load without some of its images or styling.)

While the Redirect Vanity URL setting is currently optional, we suggest you always select it. Not selecting it may cause your page to load without some of its images or styling.

Vanity URL Examples

Vanity URL Restrictions

  1. Do not use a Vanity URL on a Shared Content page.
  2. Do not use the same URL as your actual page. Doing so can produce a loop that locks you and your visitors out of the page!
  3. If higher level redirects or URL mapping already exist for your site, the Vanity URL may not act as expected. If you believe this is happening, contact the UBCMS Help Desk.
  4. For technical reasons, we request you always select Redirect Vanity URL.
  5. Each Vanity URL will only redirect one page and will not affect links to pages beneath that location. For example, it is not possible to redirect all requests under "/content/www/about_ub/*" (.../about_ub/at-a-glance, .../about-ub/visit-ub, etc.) to a single new page. If you would like to request this functionality, contact the UBCMS Help Desk.
  6. All URLs in UBCMS including Vanity URLs are case sensitive, so "/content/www/UBCares" will not match "/content/www/UBcares" (lower case 'c'). Add additional Vanity URLs for common variations.
  7. A Vanity URL will only work for pages with certain file extensions. It will definitely work for no extension as well as .html. In most sites, depending on specific site configurations, it will also work for URLs ending in: /, .asp, .apsx, .php, .php3, .shtml, .htm, .jsp, .cgi, .cfm. For example, a Vanity URL of "/content/www/about/test"
    - will match a request for /content/www/about/test.html
    - will match /content/www/about/test
    - will match /content/www/about/test/ (in most sites)
    - will match /content/www/about/test.php (in most sites)
    - will match /content/www/about/test.asp (in most sites)
    - but will NOT match /content/www/about/test.pdf
  8. Vanity URLs may interact with other rules only in effect on your published site (such as to transform URLs from /content/www/about to www.buffalo.edu/about), so it is recommended that you test Vanity URLs after activating them, and pay special attention to testing Vanity URLs when your site is first launched.
  9. Vanity URLs cannot be applied to files in the Digital Asset Manager (DAM). To get around this limitation, create a regular website page using the Redirect Template.    

Redirect Pages

The UBCMS supports a special type of page that simply serves as a built-in redirect from its apparent location to the actual page on your site. These can be built in Shared Content or as a regular Web page, using the appropriate template.

  1. In either part of the UBCMS, create a New Page and choose the Redirect template.
  2. Open the page and then open the single editable spot on the page: Redirect to.
    (NB. because no components can be added to this page, your Sidekick will look empty.)
  3. In the settings dialog box, choose between:
    • Redirect to file - Provide an asset from the DAM or uploaded from your desktop.
    • Redirect to page - Enter a complete external URL ('http://...') or use the magnifying glass chooser to select a UBCMS page.
  4. Click OK and activate this page.
Dropdown list showing page template choices.

Dropdown list showing page template choices.

A redirect page, opened for editing.

A redirect page, opened for editing.

Redirect page settings.

Redirect page settings.

URL Shorteners

A third option is to use a 'URL shortener' service, like Bit.ly or TinyURL.com. These free services allow you to choose a specific URL, if it's not already taken, such as http://bit.ly/UBCareerFair, as an equivalent to one of your Web pages.  And if you register, you can track the clicks on the link, which is very handy for assessing the effectiveness of links sent out in emails.

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