Shortcut or Vanity URLs

Good practice guide about requesting shortcut, vanity or marketing URLs.

Shortcut, vanity or marketing URLs are all names for requests that the Web Team receive for shortened web addresses. The shortened links make it easier to share than their longer associated links, as well as to track statistics.

The Web Team receives frequent requests for vanity URLs such as www.le.ac.uk/law-research-campus The team has to make a judgment, if each and every request is necessary or viable, in order to keep the number of URLs to a meaningful and reasonable level.

Outlined below is how the team manages these requests and the criteria used.

General rules

  • All shortcut URL requests should be emailed, in the first instance, to the Web CMS Administrator, Daniel Weatherhead (djw49@leicester.ac.uk). Not only will he offer guidance and support but will raise the request with the Service Desk on your behalf to reduce the time it takes to completion.
  • All requests are reviewed, approved and completed by the Web Team.
  • Ensure the shortcut URL does not already exist, albeit in similar wording.
  • Shortcuts requested are in lowercase letters and generally contain less than three continuous words (usually separated by hyphens).
  • Shortcuts do not include special characters or underscores (unless, very rarely, those that contain uppercase letters or special characters are legacy exception shortcuts.

Our external websites

Request of a shortcut/vanity URL for a specific department, subject area or topic is determined on a case-by-case basis. Criteria:

  • that it applies to a site and not an individual page or document
  • it affects a broad intended audience
  • whether it will also be used in offline publicity material
  • how it will be used in offline publicity material
  • duration of the requested change.

Marketing URLs

  • Marketing URL requests should employ plain language that is easy to remember for all audiences.
  • Acronyms should be avoided (even if they are commonly used terminology within the University) as they are meaningless to an external audience.
  • Long words are easier for your audience to remember than shortened words or abbreviations. For example, www.le.ac.uk/biochemistry-research-campus is easier for your audience to remember, than say, www.leicester.ac.uk/biochem-rc, especially if the audience is unfamiliar with the subject area.
  • Abbreviations maybe used in certain instances, where using full words is not practical.
  • Make sure the URL has been approved and set-up, before it goes to print.
  • Use www instead of www2, http or https, on any publicity material, as the latter will not work.

Quick check list:

AreaWhat you need to check
Existing URLs Does it already exist, albeit in similar wording
Level Applies to a site; not an individual page
Audience Affects a broad intended audience
Publicity How it will be used on publicity material (if applicable)
Duration Duration of the URL
Wording Usually separated by hyphens and in lowercase
Service Desk Request logged with service desk
Publicity order Has been approved and set-up, before it goes to print (if applicable)

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