Drafted by: Emily Mayock, Assistant Vice President, Online & Internal Communications
Reviewed and Approved by: University Marketing and Communications and University Technology IT Policy Committee
Date Approved: Oct. 3, 2018
To improve the university’s search engine optimization (that is, placement in Google or other searches), usability (ease and efficiency of website use) and findability (ease of finding information contained on a website); promote compliance with federal digital accessibility laws; help regulate use of university funding for third-party vendors; and protect the university’s brand and reputation.
This policy applies to all Case Western Reserve University faculty, staff and students, and any contracted third parties on their behalf, seeking to create a website on case.edu and/or use the university’s name, brand and/or likeness on the internet.
All sites with a case.edu/cwru.edu URL must comply with Case Western Reserve University branding standards. Any requests for exceptions must be submitted in writing to University Marketing and Communications (UMC); responses also will be provided in writing.
Case Western Reserve University’s name, brand, logo or likeness cannot be used outside of the case.edu/cwru.edu domain (e.g. on a .com, .org, etc.) without explicit written approval from both University Marketing and Communications and University Technology.
Case Western Reserve University aims for a hierarchical subfolder structure (case.edu/xyz) as opposed to a subdomain structure (xyz.case.edu) wherever possible to create a more intuitive URL structure for site visitors and to improve search engine optimization efforts, which research shows may be impacted by subdomains.
University Marketing and Communications has authority over the approval/rejection of newly created, top-level URLs within the case.edu domain (case.edu/xyz, for example; the URLs for pages under the approved directory do not require approval).
University Marketing and Communications and University Technology will review and approve/reject subdomains (xyz.case.edu). Other units (e.g. an academic department for approval of a lab URL) will be consulted as necessary.
A representative of University Marketing and Communications will review and assess all requests for a web address—either a subdomain or a subfolder—for the following categories (if applicable):
- Technical requirements (e.g. third-party systems that are required because their needs cannot be satisfied through the university’s central web server content management system)
- Search engine optimization/searchability (i.e. does this clearly and effectively state the purpose of your site)
- Strategic value (i.e. will this URL be of impactful use to others within the near or long term)
- Findability and consistency (i.e. does this URL structure follow all other websites on case.edu, such as case.edu/medicine/radiology)
- Reputation (i.e. does this URL name present a potential brand and reputation issue)
University Technology’s Information Security and Network Administration teams also will review and assess subdomain requests for security and stability as well as other technical requirements.
Vanity URLs—that is, shortened versions of a web address for ease of memorization or pronunciation, such as case.edu/xyz or xyz.com, which points to a case.edu address—should be limited in usage and must have a clear marketing and communications purpose. Some vanity URLs can be created within a unit’s website/subfolder on the university’s central content management system; any exceptions and/or requests for “top-level” URLs (e.g. case.edu/xyz instead of case.edu/events/xyz) must be submitted to University Marketing & Communications in writing; UMC also will respond in writing. Subdomains for vanity, short URLs are prohibited.
Websites on the main university content management system and server will follow a subfolder structure (case.edu/xyz) as opposed to a subdomain structure (xyz.case.edu).
Subdomains will be approved for technical purposes only, such as a third-party vendor that uses technology not available through Case Western Reserve.
Units must create new websites within the university’s central content management system (CMS) or, if applicable, an existing CMS of a school/unit, unless Case Western Reserve’s services cannot meet the technical requirements. If such a technical requirement exists, as determined by University Technology and University Marketing and Communications, the websites must meet CWRU branding, accessibility and information security standards to be granted a subdomain.
case.edu vs. cwru.edu Domain
All websites on the main case.edu domain also will work at cwru.edu via a redirect (e.g. if a user types in cwru.edu/provost, the URL automatically switches to case.edu/provost). Websites on subdomains using third-party vendors only must work via case.edu, unless specifically requested by a school or department.
Units should not separately maintain cwru.edu URLs (that is, if a user types in cwru.edu, they should not continue to stay on cwru.edu as they move throughout the website; it should redirect to case.edu).
When a unit launches a new website, some commonly used URLs from its previous site should, for a limited time, redirect to the new page/URL to ensure a smooth user experience and transition. Units as well as University Marketing and Communications should review analytics at least quarterly to see which redirects are not often used and can be removed. Depending on the level of traffic to the legacy URL, University Marketing and Communications will remove the redirect at some time between six and 12 months.
URL redirects to non-case.edu sites (e.g. case.edu/xyz or xyz.case.edu to xyz.com) will be extremely rare and only permitted out of technical necessity. For approval, the website must meet Case Western Reserve branding requirements (as listed at case.edu/umc) and federal accessibility laws, as explained through the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This includes Google Sites created through the Case Western Reserve Google Suite of applications.