Washington University Subdomain Guidelines

Introduction

What Is a Subdomain?

Websites officially identified with Washington University in St. Louis have a wustl.edu address. Depending on how your site is created, it’s either a subdirectory of a subdomain such as sites.wustl.edu (sites.wustl.edu/yoursite) or a subdomain of wustl.edu itself (yoursite.wustl.edu).

Many subdomain names (sometimes called “alias” or “vanity” domain names) redirect to an existing site.  Redirected subdomain names can be essential in supporting marketing and communications objectives, as well as in enhancing user experience. For example, blooddrive.wustl.edu redirects to https://gephardtinstitute.wustl.edu/blood-drives/.

These web addresses, or URLs, are all on subdomains of the parent domain wustl.edu, which lends each site the credibility of a .edu domain, as well as a clear relationship to Washington University. The wustl.edu domain automatically associates your site with a reputable institution, provides a consistent and predictable experience across Washington University websites, and helps rankings in search engines like Google.

Examples of Washington University web addresses include:
sites.wustl.edu/chaudhurilab/
sites.wustl.edu/bloodclotstudy/
studentaffairs.wustl.edu
anastasiolab.wustl.edu

Guidelines

Consistent with University Policies

Provide access to a website that follows Washington University’s policies regarding website hosting and website design. See more information at Public Affairs, domain name policies and web hosting policies.

Memorable Naming

  • Real Words: Specific, Connected to Purpose
  • Your site’s address should be recognizable, consisting of a known keyword, official name, function or service. Honor your group’s official name, but omit words like “program,” “department,” etc., without risking recognizability.  Reflect the vision and mission of your group.
  • Abbreviations
  • Abbreviations that are recognizable for your target audience(s) may work, especially with long names.
  • Personal Names and Named Labs
  • Site addresses may not include personal names (e.g., johndoe.wustl.edu). Named labs may use an individual’s name + “lab” (e.g., doelab.wustl.edu).
  • URL-Friendly
  • Make the address easy to read and understand in URL form; this typically means limiting phrases to words. Avoid hyphens, underscores or other characters.
  • Examples:
    Do: diversity.wustl.edu, Don’t: facultyadvancementandinstitutionaldiversity.wustl.edu
    Do: medicalalumni.wustl.edu, Don’t: medicalalumnianddevelopment.wustl.edu

Keywords

Include the keywords your target audience might use to look for your site on Google and other search engines. (Learn about search engine optimization/SEO.)

For Parallel Services

If your group has a parallel office at the university level, make the distinction clear.

Examples of university services provided by groups on the Danforth Campus, and the parallel services provided by groups on the Medical Campus:
facilties.wustl.edu                                facilities.med.wustl.edu
publicaffairs.wustl.edu                 publicaffairs.med.wustl.edu
diversity.wustl.edu                              diversity.med.wustl.edu

Program-Specific Sites

Likewise, if your site is specific to a program, make that clear.

Examples:
The Washington University Alumni Association: alumni.wustl.edu
The alumni program of Olin Business School: olin.wustl.edu/alumni
The Office of Admission of School of Medicine: mdadmissions.wustl.edu

Best Practices

  • Avoid acronyms (unless well known to your target audiences).
  • Rely on “wustl.edu” for any mention of the university; do not insert redundancy and unnecessary length with additional mentions of the university. For example, “WU” is redundant in WUDiningServices.wustl.edu.

Process

Application for a Subdomain

Danforth Campus

Apply through the Domain Request form. Your request will go to Washington University’s Office of Public Affairs, which reviews all subdomain requests from a communications perspective.  After approval by the Office of Public Affairs, your request will route automatically to WashU IT.

Medical Campus

Please see the Medical Public Affairs URL Guide and Subdomain Protocol.

Updated August 2018