Web Hosting Policy

Policy on Website Hosting with Third-Party Service Providers

The faculty, administrators, and students of Washington University in St. Louis seek to provide up to date, accurate and meaningful information on university-related websites.

Likewise, the university’s integrity and reputation rely on consistent and strong content on the wustl.edu domain and on any websites that relate to, refer to, or could be perceived as representing the university. It is therefore key that all such websites conform to minimum university standards.

In general, all university Internet services and all information about the university available from accessing the Internet, including any of its schools, departments, divisions, centers, faculty, staff and fiscal and operating units, must use only the wustl.edu domain. Please see the domain name policy.

The Office of Information Services & Technology and University Marketing & Communications manage the wustl.edu domain, coordinate naming for new domains, and manage website resources for the faculty, administrators and students operating on behalf of Washington University or any of its units.

In certain exceptional cases, members of the university may find it necessary to hire third-party service providers for website hosting or other Internet operations. This policy addresses these exceptional cases.

Social Media platforms, such as iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia, present a separate set of requirements and concerns. Please see the social media policy.

Authorization. Authorization to hire website development or hosting service providers is required. Websites created or managed by third parties shall be reviewed and authorized through the Office of Information Services & Technology in cooperation with University Marketing & Communications and the Office of General Counsel. Any existing third-party relationships or agreements shall be reviewed routinely and may be amended or renegotiated as necessary.

Authorization Contact Information. To request authorization for a website created or managed by a third party, please send an email to licensing@wustl.edu. The licensing team will respond to requests in a timely manner, facilitate communications across departments and offices, and assist in determining best practices going forward.

URL Selection. University Marketing & Communications is the point of contact for establishing URL names for externally developed websites. All requested URL names will be reviewed to ensure that new sites do not create confusion with existing sites and that names are consistent with Washington University standards. Sample approved URLs include bulletin.wustl.edu and library.wustl.edu.

User to begin at wustl.edu domain. The access point for all university information and services on the Internet shall be the wustl.edu domain. The Office of Information Services & Technology or University Marketing & Communications will provide one of the two following options.

  • Preferred Option: Remain in wustl.edu. Users will see a wustl.edu URL throughout their experience.
  • Alternate Option: Redirect to contracted vendor. When the Office of Information Services & Technology or University Marketing & Communications determines that the preferred option is technically not attainable, an alternate may be offered. Users will initially access the information or service by using a wustl.edu URL. Subsequently, users will see external URL names.

Communications regarding externally developed websites. Only wustl.edu URLs will be used in communications regarding university information and services. For example, in brochures, mailings, and all print and electronic publications, only wustl.edu URLs will be advertised.

Confirmation on wustl.edu of authorized websites created or managed by third parties. For all authorized websites created or managed by third parties, users will either access the site through a wustl.edu “landing page” or will have access to a confirmation page on wustl.edu via a prominent link from the external site.

Information Security Policies. All policies, procedures and guidelines regarding university information security apply to contracted Web providers, per the individually contracted agreements. Applicable policies and guidelines are available online: Washington University Information Security Policy and Washington University Computer Use Policy.

Secure sites for Personal Information. SSL (HTTPS) certificates are required by the university any time a website is handling personal information. SSL certificates are also required if the website has any authentication forms utilizing login IDs and passwords. SSL certificates are managed by the Office of Information Services & Technology.

Policies regarding Trademarks, Symbols, Names and Images. All policies, procedures and guidelines regarding university trademarks, names and symbols apply to contracted Web providers. The university does not permit explicit or implied institutional endorsements of any kind through the use of its names, trademarks, logos or images – including pictures of campus buildings. University Marketing & Communications manages the use of university names, logos, etc. Before you launch an externally developed website, consult with University Marketing & Communications to resolve branding issues in these venues and to ensure compliance with the policies:


Domain: A unique name that identifies an Internet site.
Domain Name: A domain name is made up of two parts, separated by a dot ‐‐ the Internet site name and a suffix that describes the kind of organization (e.g., EDU signifies an educational institution). Washington University’s domain name is WUSTL.EDU.
HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol; the method for transferring hypertext documents over the Internet and between computers. Hypertext refers to text that contains links to other documents. The use of hypertext is a way of presenting information in which text, sounds, video, images and actions are linked together.
HTTPS: Hypertext Transfer Protocol, Secure; a secure method of transferring hypertext documents over the Internet and between computers.
ISP: Internet Services Provider; a company that provides access to the Internet. Information Services & Technology – Network Services manages contracts with multiple ISPs to provide the Internet and Internet2 access for all Washington University organizations through the core data network.
SSL: Secure Socket Layer: A set of rules used to secure data transmitted between computers over the Internet.
URL: 1. Uniform Resource Locator: The address for a site located on the World Wide Web. HTTP://WWW.WUSTL.EDU is the URL for Washington University in St. Louis.
Web Host: A company that maintains a client’s website and provides a computing environment for the website that is accessible through the Internet.

Updated September 2020