This policy governs the allocation and appropriate usage of subdomains on the open.ac.uk domain for externally published content and services.
The Open University (OU) domain and its subdomains are ways to communicate the University’s corporate identity and reputation through its digital content and services. To protect the integrity of the OU and to limit the proliferation of unnecessary, redundant, or ambiguous subdomains, Digital Services (DS) and Information Technology (IT) have created this policy around the appropriate usage of subdomains e.g. [subdomain].open.ac.uk.
1.1 This policy applies to all web sites and services relating to the normal business of the University produced and owned by staff or units within The Open University.
1.2 A consistent approach to the allocation, structuring and wording of subdomains brings a number of benefits to the University website:
1.3 The Policy also:
Outlines the governance of subdomains for the University and the responsibilities of the Domain Working Group in managing the allocation of subdomains Ensures a clear process for requesting a subdomain.
2.1 The university’s policy is that all University activities should be presented within the open.ac.uk domain. The following are current exceptions:
2.2 Subdomains will be limited to one level. For example, [subdomain].open.ac.uk (the only exception is when the “www” prefix is requested).
2.3 To use a subdomain your unit must be one of the following:
2.4 Subdomains must have a clear and meaningful connection to the business purpose of the site.
2.5 Subdomains must avoid use of acronyms or ambiguous sets of characters, unless it's an already recognisable part of your identity. For example blockchain.open.ac.uk or creet.open.ac.uk
2.6 Subdomains must be unique enough to prevent confusion with other subdomains.
2.7 Subdomains may not be used as a vanity URL or redirect to subpages within other sites. Instead consider using the University’s URL shortener. [subject to procurement from IT]
2.8 All details of subdomains must be registered with DE to ensure audit commitments are met
Table of agreed subdomains (.pdf)
3.1 The table contains agreed naming formats for key areas of the university’s digital content.
3.2 The table also contains subdomains relating to specific content areas that are reserved and therefore will not be approved for use in relation to other content areas.
3.3 Where a subdomain deviates from the agreed naming formats the final decision will be deferred to the Digital Governance and Performance Sign-off Group for sign off.
4.1 Names must be clear, unambiguous, easy to read, easy to type and easy to share.
4.2 Names must not imply university-wide activity when in reality it is focused on or limited to a unit/project responsibility or activity.
4.3 Names must:
4.4 1 and 2-letter subdomain names will not normally be used. Exceptionally they may be permitted for generic online services which are intended to apply to all of the university community and for which a very short domain name is essential for end-user convenience.
4.5 Internationalised subdomain names are currently not supported. Where names contain letters that cannot be reproduced in standard ASCII, the conventionally accepted spelling should be used.
4.6 When selecting any name you should be aware of the need to avoid infringing existing trademarks, trade names and third party business names. These can sometimes mistakenly be used as generic terms e.g. Apple. Apart from giving unnecessary publicity, there is a risk of it being illegal. Where a trade name, trademark or business name is to be used then written proof of your authority to use the name or mark must be submitted.
5.1To the broad majority of users acronyms are meaningless. Web managers should favour a user-centred approach and name accordingly.
5.2 3 and 4-letter abbreviations or acronyms should only be used if:
6.1 The Domain Working Group are responsible for managing the allocation of subdomains on open.ac.uk .
6.2 The Domain Working Group has representation from Digital Services, LTS and Information Technology. The decisions that are made by this working group are based on their awareness of University-wide plans.
6.3 DE maintain a list of all current subdomains in use across the University website in support of the Working Group and audit commitments (Internal link only).
7.1 Any department, faculty, unit institute or other grouping within the University which wishes to request a subdomain, please use the subdomain request form.
7.2 You will hear from a Digital Services representative within 5 business days of your request as to the approval and status of your request.
7.3 When making the request, be sure to indicate the business case for the subdomain and where the subdomain should resolve (usually a domain or ip address).
7.4 The request must be submitted by a member of Open University staff.
7.5 If the requested name is a particularly generic term or phrase or not directly associated to a unit’s name (such as for cross-unit projects), the final decision will be deferred to the Network and Server Governance Group for sign off.
7.6 Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis according to the following general criteria:
7.7 The Senior Responsible Officer at the University for the allocation of subdomains is Director External Engagement, Vice-Chancellor’s Office the authority for decision making is delegated to the Chief Architect, IT and Head of Digital Services, Communications.
7.8 Any appeals against decisions made by the Domain Working Group should be addressed to the Digital Services mailbox, who, in turn, will forward the appeal to the Chief Architect, IT and Head of Digital Sevices, Communications for their consideration.
8.1 The following summarises conditions that may result in withdrawal of an .open.ac.uk subdomain name.
8.2 Not following the above rules and conditions.
8.3 A persistent failure to maintain an accessible and functional website (e.g. obsolete and de-commissioned domains where a code 404 page is consistently appearing).
8.4 Failing to ensure the website remains resistant to existing and emerging security compromises: if an .open.ac.uk website is found to be compromised by third parties, the relevant DNS administrator will be instructed to point the subdomain in question to a safe landing page while the security issues are addressed.
8.5 Persistently failing to comply with University Digital Standards, including accessibility and coding standards.
8.8 Changing the status of the organisation or project that the subdomain name represents.
...about MUST, SHOULD or MAY?
The Terminology section explains why each of these terms is used, and what they mean.
The Open University (OU) domain and its subdomains are ways to communicate the University’s corporate identity and reputation through its digital content and services