This policy governs the approval and usage of subdomains on the imperial.ac.uk domain. It was published on 30 November 2020.

On this page:

  • Overview
  • Policy scope
  • Policy
  • Formats for acceptable subdomain names
  • Naming formats
  • Subdomain management
  • Requesting a subdomain
  • Withdrawals

Overview

The Imperial domain and its subdomains are used to publish content and services branded by Imperial College London through digital channels. In order to ensure that Imperial’s digital brand identity is protected, the Digital team in Communications and Public Affairs, in collaboration with ICT and the Faculty Web Officers have created this policy around the appropriate usage of imperial.ac.uk subdomains.

A subdomain, in the context of Imperial, is the name that appears before ‘.imperial.ac.uk’ (which is the domain). For example, the web address for the main College website is www.imperial.ac.uk. In this case ‘www’ is the subdomain. Other examples include blackboard.imperial.ac.uk, for the College’s Blackboard service and events.imperial.ac.uk, used for the College events content management system.

Policy scope

This policy covers only requests for subdomains of the main .imperial.ac.uk domain via the Website domain and hosting requests process. Current examples include asset-library.imperial.ac.uk and alumni.imperial.ac.uk

This policy covers requests made after the published date shown at the top of this page.

This policy does not cover subdomains for ic.ac.uk, which is a legacy domain. IC (and ICL) should not be to used to refer to, or write about the College. There is more information about this in the College’s brand and style guidelines. This means that use of the ic.ac.uk domain is no longer authorised according to this policy. We are aware that there are live websites that are using this domain, but this policy doesn't cover these.

This policy applies to web sites/services relating to the normal business of Imperial produced and owned by staff or organisational units within the College.

The policy also outlines the governance of managing the allocation of subdomains for the College and helps ensure a clear process for requesting a subdomain.

Benefits of a consistent approach

Having a consistent approach to subdomains, benefits Imperial in the following ways:

  • Supports the College’s brand identity
  • Supports digital best practice and standards
  • Creates cohesion among Imperial websites
  • Mitigates against poor search engine optimisation (SEO) caused by:
    • subdomain conflict
    • poor or inconsistent naming
    • having multiple subdomains focussed on the same content or search terms.
  • Creates a set of standards in preparation for any future direction in cloud hosting for online teaching or other College services.

Policy

1. The imperial.ac.uk domain is reserved for College-wide services or other services/applications where it is of strategic importance that the College aligns its brand with. Any requests that do not meet this criterion would be better suited to a new domain registration or usage of another existing domain. For example, a department-owned domain. This would be determined as part of the Website domain and hosting requests process.
2. When requesting a subdomain you will not be able use the main website page templates, used on the Imperial website but may use College brand assets.
3. To request use of a subdomain, your unit must be one of the following:
4. Subdomain names must have a clear and meaningful connection to the purpose of the site or application.
5. Subdomains must indicate the scope of the site or application i.e. must not imply it is a College-wide activity when it is only limited to the work of a single unit, project or activity.
6. Subdomains should not use product or external brand names and should instead reflect the relevant College-service. Software vendors or identities can change over time so subdomains should not reflect these changes.
7. Subdomains must not be formed using acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations or ambiguous sets of characters. These are largely meaningless to users and can also have a detrimental effect on SEO. There are exceptions where these may be considered:
  • where they are widely understood by the intended audience(s) or higher education sector
  • is part of your identity i.e. used in communications or marketing activities. For example, dyson.imperial.ac.uk or icis.imperial.ac.uk
  • there is no reasonable and meaningful alternative
  • where using a full organisational name would be considered too long For example, aero-learn.imperial.ac.uk instead of aeronautics-learning.imperial.ac.uk.
8. Subdomains must be unique enough to prevent confusion with other subdomains. So as part of the approval process we will review your request alongside existing subdomains.
9. Subdomains are not to be used as a vanity URL or redirect to subpages within other sites. Vanity URLs should be subdirectories of www.imperial.ac.uk/. For example, www.imperial.ac.uk/entrepreneurship/.
10. All requests for subdomains are made by following the Website domain and hosting requests process.

Formats for acceptable subdomain names

Examples of agreed subdomains

Below is a selection of existing agreed subdomains for key areas of Imperial’s digital content.

  • email.imperial.ac.uk
  • enterprise.imperial.ac.uk
  • events.imperial.ac.uk
  • halls.imperial.ac.uk
  • learn.imperial.ac.uk
  • library-search.imperial.ac.uk
  • materials-virtual-space.imperial.ac.uk
  • office.imperial.ac.uk
  • plexus.imperial.ac.uk
  • wiki.imperial.ac.uk

Exceptions

Where a subdomain deviates from the agreed naming formats (see the next section), the final decision will be deferred to the Head of Digital for sign off.

Naming formats

Below is a list of mandatory requirements and considerations when requesting a subdomain name. These will also be used when reviewing requests.

Names must:
  • clear, unambiguous, easy to read, easy to type and easy to share
  • indicate the scope of the site or application i.e. must not imply a College-wide activity when it is only limited to the work of a single unit, project or activity.
  • not use uppercase letters
  • contain only standard ASCII alphanumeric characters A to Z; numerals 0 to 9 and/or hyphens
  • not contain underscores or spaces
  • be a minimum of 2 characters (not including .imperial.ac.uk part)
  • contain fewer than 50 characters (including.imperial.ac.uk part)
  • not begin or end with a hyphen (-)
  • not use existing internet protocols, such as www, ftp, dns etc.
  • not contain “imperial” or “imperial-college”
  • not use acronyms, initialisms or abbreviations, except in the circumstances detailed in point 7. in the Policy section above.
Names should:
  • be hyphenated when containing separate words for example asset-library.imperial.ac.uk or report-and-support.imperial.ac.uk unless it part of a brand or the official title of the subject         
  • contain the primary keyword for the page
  • describe the subject/purpose of the site or application yet be as short as possible.
  • not contain numbers in the URL, they can be confusing for your users and can quickly date a site. There are exceptional circumstances where this is acceptable. For example, it is for a very specific timeframe, or is part of your brand or official title. For example, c19-react.imperial.ac.uk or 360-visit.imperial.ac.uk/.
  • not infringe existing trademarks, trade names or use third-party business names as it can provide unnecessary publicity or may be illegal. Where a trade name, trademark or business name is to be used, you should consult the Library Services first.
  • not be too generic or vague in a way that it could cover more possible subjects or activities carried out by other parts of the College. For example, a single department requesting student-courses.imperial.ac.uk would not be authorised unless the website was covering College-wide course provision.

Reserved subdomains

There are a number of subdomain names that are reserved for existing College-wide activities and therefore will not be approved for use in relation to other content areas. Some examples of these include:

  • news.imperial.ac.uk
  • research.imperial.ac.uk
  • courses.imperial.ac.uk
  • study.imperial.ac.uk
  • graduation.imperial.ac.uk

Subdomain management

Requests for <subdomain name>.imperial.ac.uk subdomains are reviewed by your Faculty Web Officer in relation to this policy, before being passed to the Digital team in Communications and Public Affairs for approval. Where an exception to the policy is being requested, it will be passed to the Head of Digital for final approval. Upon approval, the request is sent to Change Management in ICT for implementation.

Requesting a subdomain

1. All requests for subdomains are made using the Request a website (non T4), domain, URL or hosting space form and following the Website domain and hosting requests process.
2. The form details all the information required including the business case for the subdomain, what you would like it to be named and where it should resolve to (usually a domain or IP address).
3. Requests must be submitted by a member of Imperial staff.
4. All requests will be discussed on a case by case basis, considering some or all of the following:
  • alignment with Imperial’s Strategy
  • whether the content in question should instead be published on the main College (terminalfour) website
  • size and significance of the target audience
  • impact on the College’s information architecture and content strategy
  • timescales
  • appropriateness and justification for the request particularly for generic names (see point 5 of the formats section above)

Withdrawals

Use of all .imperial.ac.uk subdomains is subject to regular review by Communications and Public Affairs and ICT, who reserve the right to remove websites that do not comply with accessibility standards, security, GDPR or other legislation the College is bound by.