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Establishing a New Web Site

Use this guide to make key decisions for your new website, including selecting a host and domain name. 


Hosting

Your site will need to be hosted on a web server that will contain your files and serve them to web visitors on request.

The University's central web server, NUInfo, is available free of charge to University departments, schools, and centers using Cascade, the university's main Web Content Management System (WCMS). The WCMS and NUInfo are supported by Global Marketing and Communications. See the IT website for more information about requirements for community participation on the central web server. To commission a new site, please complete our project request form.

NUSites is Northwestern's self-service WordPress publishing environment. Faculty, staff, and students can easily build and manage websites and blogs free of charge for academic and research purposes. Offered in partnership with CampusPress, Northwestern Sites provides managed security and updates.

Lastly, units can work with third-party commercial vendors, however Global Marketing and Communicstions provides no support for this option. The table below compares some specifics of the above three hosting choices.

Feature NuInfo/Cascade CMS NUSites Third-Party Provider
Location University data centers Cloud-based Varies
Cost None None Monthly or Annual Fee (Varies)
Visitor NetID Authentication Yes Yes Not supported
Editor NetID Authentication Yes Yes Not supported
Server-side scripting (PHP, ASP, .NET, Perl, etc.) nuinfo provides a CGI mail form; for more advanced functionality Cascade CMS can be paired with school-supported servers No, but offers some WordPress modules Possibly (check with providers)

Alternatively, units capable of managing their own web servers may request a virtual machine through NUIT Cyberinfrastructure using the request to house administrative applications and request to house research servers forms. Units using this option must manage their server's operating system, software, configuration, user accounts and security.

Domain Name

A domain name (for example, www.norris.northwestern.edu) is the gateway through which most people will access your site. Schools, departments or centers may consider these different naming strategies:

Only one domain name will be allocated for each site. There is no cost associated with establishing a northwestern.edu subdomain. This service is supported by IT Telecommunications and Network Services; however, top-level subdomains must be approved by Global Marketing and Communications. To request a new domain name, contact the NUIT Support Center, allowing five business days for domain name requests and redirects.

Search engine optimization practices encourage the following:

Labs and student groups should request a sub-subdomain from their sponsoring entity (for example lab.mccormick.northwestern.edu).

Loosely affiliated sites (conferences, multi-institution groups) may register a .org domain name instead of a northwestern.edu subdomain. By policy, .com, .biz, and other commercial types are not permitted. For questions on non-northwestern.edu addresses please contact webmaster@northwestern.edu.

Design and Development

Web Communications provides design, development, and content architecture services. To request our servers, submit a project intake form. If you enlist an outside contractor to assist in designing or building your site, please make them aware of this guide and review the Northwestern department templates (NetID required) and brand guidelines.