You’ve worked hard to get your CMS website good to go and are excited for your community to see it. How do you make that happen?
Going Live FAQs
Once you are ready to make all of your hard work live so that it is available to your intended audience, you have a few options. Here’s answers to the common questions we get around domain mapping, public/private sites, intranets etc.
How do I change the URL of my site? (Domain Mapping)
When we first create sites on CMS they have a URL of the form faculty-department-year.sites.olt.ubc.ca so perhaps something like arts-writing-2023.sites.olt.ubc.ca. This URL is what is known as the Canonical URL. It’s the default URL that will always be available to you and the URL that you will always see when editing your site.
However, we realize that it likely isn’t the URL that you wish to advertise to people, or ‘go live’ with. You have the ability to adjust the public URL of your site via a process called ‘Domain Mapping’.
The first step is to register your domain. If it’s a something.ubc.ca domain then you will need to contact UBC IT and ask them to register your chosen subdomain. If it’s a non-UBC domain i.e. mycooldomain.com, you will need to use a domain registrar and pay for the domain.
When registering your UBC domain, please ensure that the NMC team at UBC IT (or, if your Faculty or Department has their own IT Team, please ask them to) point your domain at CMS’s IP Address: 220.127.116.11 — ideally via what is known as a DNS A record pointing to that IP Address. If you’re using a custom non-ubc domain, you will need to manage the DNS records yourself, and add an A Record with a value of 18.104.22.168
Once the domain is registered and pointing at our IP Address (this can take several hours or days to propagate), there are 2 more steps.
The next step is to add this new domain to your site so that an SSL Certificate is generated for you. You do this by visiting Tools > Domain Mapping from the dashboard of your site.
Note: When typing in your URL please only put the domain. No protocol or slashes. i.e. if your desired URL is https://president.ubc.ca/ then please only type president.ubc.ca in the domain mapping box. Ensure you do not add a forward slash, one will automatically be added.
Add the domain but at this point do not set it to be the primary domain. Please wait 24 hours during which time an SSL Certificate will be automatically generated and applied for you.
And finally, 24 hours after you added the domain to your domain mapping, you can now set it to be the primary domain for your site. This will now immediately make your site available on your chosen domain. Your dashboard URL will not change, this is expected, but the URL your site’s visitors see will be your new custom URL.
Should I use www in my domain?
UBC IT and Domain Experts suggest that using www as a prefix to your domain is unnecessary (and may be considered a bad practice). We recommend using yourdomain.ubc.ca rather than www.yourdomain.ubc.ca. If you absolutely require the www subdomain, please be aware that www.yourdomain.ubc.ca and yourdomain.ubc.ca are technically different URLs. Which can be pointed to different things (including different sites). You will need an SSL certificate for your precise domain, so ensure to both register the www prefixed domain as well as entering that into the domain mapping box.
Can I make my site accessible only to people who are signed in? i.e. Can I make an intranet?
Yes, it is possible to have a non-public site on UBC CMS. You have two options for ensuring your entire site (see below for more a discrete option) is only available to people signed in to CMS.
Option 1 is to make your site available to anyone signed in to UBC CMS. This ensures that the people visiting your site have a valid CWL and they are either a member of faculty, staff, a student, or a sponsored CWL (for example if you had hired an external agency and needed to give them access to your site). You do this by visiting Settings > Reading from the dashboard of your site. Towards the bottom of the page you will see a ‘Site Visibility’ section. For this option you would choose the option labeled ‘I would like my site to be visible only to Registered network users’.
Option 2 is to make your site available only to users you have added to your site. You may want to run a staff intranet for your department for example, in which case you would add each of your staff to your site (Users > Invite User), and then select the option labeled ‘I would like my site to be visible only to Site subscribers’.
Can I make only certain parts of my content non-public rather than my entire site?
Yes, using a suite of plugins called Content Visibility, you can set rules on a block-by-block basis as to who can see which pieces of content on your site. Visit the Plugins menu from your dashboard and scroll down to Content Visibility. You may wish to read the documentation for the Content Visibility plugin.
Have some other questions?
You have a couple options. Below here you’ll find several more FAQs and support documents. And if those don’t help, then you can submit a support request.
You’ve made a great site, but now you need people to come read it. Here’s some FAQs on best practices for making your site as good as it can be so people want to visit.
What SEO options do I have?
First, if you’re using a something.ubc.ca domain the good news is that Google (and other search engines) rank your site highly already. It comes as being part of the UBC URL.
Second, it’s always important to remember that the best thing you can do for search engines is to write content for people. Those people who read your site, link to it from their own sites, comment on your posts, mention it on social media etc. are by far and away the most important thing when it comes to optimizing your site for search engines.
Beyond that you have a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO available to you. If you are an admin of a site on CMS you can activate it from the Plugins menu. That will help you with the technical details of making it easier for search engines to find and parse your site correctly.
And finally, we do our best to improve the performance of your site to ensure it loads quickly — something search engines value. And we also ensure that the WordPress theme we provide you meets WCAG 2.1 AA Accessibility guidelines meaning your content is available to those who use assistive technologies as well as those who are fortunate enough not to need them. This is also a ranking factor for many search engines. This is why it’s important to ensure your content remains accessible too. You can learn more about ensuring your content accessible with a free (for UBC Staff/Faculty) course on LinkedIn. (we’ve linked the relevant important section — section 6 — on writing accessible content)
How best should I capture analytics on my site? Can I use Google Analytics?
If you wish to collect data around what users are doing on your site, such as how they came to your site, which pages are most regularly visited, how long people stay on your site on average, which type of browsers or technology are most commonly used to view your site etc. then a good option is to use Google Analytics.
We have a guide on how to implement Google Analytics on your site which has been updated for Google Analytics 4.