Redirects and Vanity URLs

Provide alternate paths to your page.

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Last reviewed: May 14, 2021

Overview

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.

Server Redirects

These higher order paths guide how people access any UB website, not just those in the UBCMS, provided UB manages that domain or server. Set for a temporary (one-year) or persistent (three year renewable) period, they must be supported by a good business case.

If you would like to request a server redirect, please assemble your business case and contact the DCT Help Team.

After you retire this tactic, or as an alternative, consider implementing a custom 404 error page. This will load when the ‘wrong’ URL is requested, with your unit’s branding and additional clarification how to find the content that is sought. > Read more about custom error pages

Temporary Redirect

  • Purpose: To support a short-term business need such as a website migration, or marketing campaign (hard copy or sent email).
  • Duration: One year.  Normally non-renewable.
  • Requires a business case.
  • Examples:
    • geology.buffalo.edu -> arts-sciences.buffalo.edu/geology.html
    • facilities.buffalo.edu -> buffalo.edu/administrative-services/managing-facilities.html

Persistent Redirect

  • Purpose:  To support user expectations, industry standards, or institutional needs (including brand, legal requirement or contract).
  • Duration: Three year, renewable on request.
  • Requires a strong business case.
  • Examples:
    • education.buffalo.edu -> ed.buffalo.edu
    • news.buffalo.edu -> buffalo.edu/news
    • cas.buffalo.edu -> arts-sciences.buffalo.edu

UBCMS Vanity URLS

These are set by Authors in the UBCMS to 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.

You can create Vanity URLs in the UBCMS for any sites that you manage, provided the domain falls within what the UBCMS controls (e.g. www.buffalo.edu/abc) or one of the decanal or divisional subdomains already established in the UBCMS (e.g. nursing.buffalo.edu). If your URL is already being adjusted by a server redirect, speak to the DCT Help Team for advice. For example, cas.buffalo.edu is handled specially, and they must use /content/www/cas... instead of /content/cas...

Please observe the following precautions.
  • Do not create top level Vanity URLs without permission; i.e. that start with ABC.buffalo.edu or www.buffalo.edu/ABC .
  • Test your Vanity URL first to be sure it does not hijack someone else's page.
  • Only use wording that falls within your own area of authority; e.g. Dining Services should not use "UB Bulls" without authorization.

Contact the UBCMS Help Team with any questions.

It is not possible to add a working Vanity URL to an authenticated page unless your Vanity URL also ends in '-pw.'  If a short URL without '-pw' is desired for outreach or to handle common usage, we suggest you use a separate Redirect Page instead.

Create a new page using the Redirect Template, set the URL through the UBCMS to the actual secure page (/content/www/etc/page-pw), and then add any desired Vanity URLs to the Page Properties of the redirect page, and NOT in the secure page itself.

UBCMS 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. Click Create and 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 an external URL, with the 'https://' prefix, or use the magnifying glass chooser to select an internal UBCMS page.
  4. Click OK and activate this page.
screenshot of Create Page process with available templates.

Create Page process with available templates

A redirect page, opened for editing.

A redirect page, opened for editing.

Redirect page settings.

Redirect page settings.

For standard UBCMS pages, while you can set a redirect in page Properties, we do not recommend this solution, because nothing in Author shows that the page is being used as a redirect.  

Known Issue

Redierct pages cannot have working children.  You can create a child page, but will not be able to edit its contents, because the UBCMS knows that its parent will effectively block access to that child page.  Read more about this known issue.

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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