It's important to choose a good url (domain name) for your platform. In doing so, your target audience can easily find the platform online. The URL is shown in the address bar of your browser . A good url is clear, easy to understand, will help you get more engagement on your platform, and is helpful in a focused communication strategy.
The setup of this personal URL requires some technical steps for which you need the help of your technical team or IT department.
Important: choose a subdomain instead of a complete newly invented domain name. Read the answer to question 6 below.
Take the following steps:
STEP 1: Register your chosen subdomain name/url
You can easily create a subdomain name in the settings of your organisation/city domain name. A subdomain is the part of the address that is in front of your existing domain name (which in most cases is www). A web address with a subdomain can look like this: subdomain.domain.be or participation.jouwgemeente.nl, inspraakplatform.antwerpen.be, ...
STEP 2: Link your subdomain to the CitizenLab nameservers
This is done by adding the following nameservers as DNS NS record(s) for your chosen (sub)domain in your DNS management system:
✅ Check check! At this point, before contacting us, you can check yourself if the DNS NS records have been added correctly. Just open your computer's terminal (on Mac, or in Windows) and add the following command: dig NS +trace "your new url". If you see the 4 NS-records automatically appear somewhere in the list, the installation should be ok. See image below. If the NS4 wouldn't show, that shouldn't be a problem.
STEP 3: Contact the CitizenLab support to inform us about your custom domain.
Please do so by sending an email to email@example.com with the subject 'Setup custom domain' and the confirmation that the nameservers have been added as DNS NS record(s). Please contact us at least one week before you intend to launch your new url.
STEP 4: We will make the platform available under your new domain name as soon as possible. 🎉
Other questions related to your custom platform URL:
1. I want to use multiple domain names (for example to direct to a specific project-page), is that possible?
No, every CitizenLab platform is only accessible using one single domain name. There is a good reason why we dare to say this. Using multiple domain names for the same platform (or different projects) is a bad practice, since it will have a bad impact on the position of your platform in the search results and engagement in general. If you really need to have multiple domains (for example for offline communication purposes), you can setup a HTTP redirect in your own system. A redirect will change the address bar of the browser to the actual platform URL whenever someone visits it.
2. How do I add these NS DNS records?
Contact your internal technical support to setup these records. Typically, they can be found in the online admin panel of your DNS management system, where the domain names are controlled.
3. My DNS management interface only lets me add 2 nameservers, is that a problem?
No, that's not a (big) problem. Add as many nameservers as your DNS management systems allows you to.
4. Why can't I use a CNAME DNS record instead of NS records?
Security of the data of your platform and your users is highly valuable to us. To make sure that we can offer your platform under an encrypted SSL connection, we need full access to the domain at the nameserver level. Strong SSL encryption is mandatory default for every CitizenLab platform at no extra costs.
5. Can I stick to the the CitizenLab domain?
Yes, of course. By default, every CitizenLab platform is available through a citizenlab.co domain, provided at the start. No extra configurations are needed. SSL is activated, which means that your platform is shown in an encrypted connection and, thus, accessible through the secure url with https:// *.
*Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The 'S' at the end of HTTPS stands for 'Secure'. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.