If you’re getting ready to launch your participation platform, you’re probably thinking about what web address you want to use. The web address, also commonly referred to as a URL, is the link that you’ll send to people to join and participate on your platform, so it’s important to choose one that’s easy to understand and remember.
When setting up your platform, you have three choices:
Use the CitizenLab web address
All participation platforms come by default with a citizenlab.co web address. This is the easiest out-of-the-box solution as no additional configuration is needed. Platforms using the CitizenLab domain end in *.citizenlab.co. You can choose what goes in the front of that - for instance, hello.citizenlab.co or cityname.citizenlab.co.
Use a sub-domain of your organisation’s website
If your organisation already has a domain set up for its primary website, you might want to use a sub-domain for your participation platform. What is a sub-domain? This is what goes at the front of the web address. For instance, if your primary website is 'https://www.cityname.gov', the sub-domain here is ‘www.’ You can switch out the ‘www’ with something else for your CitizenLab platform. For instance, 'https://participate.cityname.gov' or 'https://engage.cityname.gov'
Even though your participation platform is using the same domain as your primary website, they are each distinct websites with their own content. However, a subdomain works well for consistent branding and to help people know that the platform is a part of your organisation.
Use a custom domain of your own choosing
Your participation platform can be hosted at a custom web address. You’ll need to register the domain name that you’d like to use (there are a number of websites that help you check if the web address you want is still available or is already in use) and we can help you get it set up.
Setting up a sub-domain or custom domain
If you want to set up a non-CitizenLab web address, there are a couple of steps that you'll need to go through to set it up. This process requires a bit of coordination and can take one to two weeks, so do plan ahead!
STEP 1: Register your sub-domain or domain
STEP 2: Link your sub-domain or domain to the CitizenLab name servers
STEP 3: Contact CitizenLab to let us know what your registered sub-domain or domain name is. We’ll then set it up for your platform.
Please send this information to firstname.lastname@example.org at least one week in advance of your launch (more advance notice is always appreciated), so that we can make sure that your domain is properly set up.
How do I link my sub-domain or domain to the CitizenLab name servers?
Add the following name servers as DNS NS record(s) in your DNS management system:
Hit ‘enter’, and the 4 NS records should appear in the resulting output. If not, please try again to add the DNS NS records.
Can I use multiple domain names (for example, one for each project)?
A platform can only be linked to a single domain. If you really need to have multiple domains, you could create the domain and then set up a HTTP redirect to the platform URL (contact email@example.com to create this redirect).
How do I add NS DNS records?
Typically, they can be found in the online admin panel of your DNS management system, where the domain names are controlled. If possible, we’d advise asking your internal technical support to help set up the records.
My DNS management interface only lets me add 2 name servers, is that a problem?
Add as many name servers as your DNS management systems allows you to and we’ll take a look to make sure it’s ok.
Why can't I use a A record instead of NS records?
Our platform is served through a CDN (content delivery network) with many different local data centers to deliver a fast response time. This implies that there are multiple, changing IP addresses. Unfortunately, as a consequence, the use of an A record is not an option. Instead, we use NS records for our (sub)domain names.
Why can't I use a CNAME DNS record instead of NS records?
To make sure that we can offer your platform under an encrypted SSL connection (and thus protect your platform data), we need full access to the domain at the name server level. Using CNAME records is possible but it is the 'last resort' if NS records really aren't an option.
Why can't I use a CSR file?
If you are obliged to use a root certificate we can generate a CSR file for you that you can sing. So it is possible, but requires some extra work and time. Let us know if this is necessary to set up the right records in your domain.
Note: Make sure not to externally share the ‘old’ url if you still plan to customize it.