What are Vanity URLs?

Engage offers institutions the ability to set up a customized or "vanity" URL.  This means that you can brand your Engage application using https://hostname.institution.edu or https://hostname.com/net/org.

Though the URL appears to be that of the institution, browsing to the URL takes the user to the Engage service hosted by Campus Labs. This is advantageous because it will give your users a feeling of familiarity and trust in using the application, and also ensure that perceptions of your institutional ownership and the integrity of your marketing efforts are maintained.

Custom vanity URLs are made possible when you do two things:

  • share a TLS certificate with Campus Labs
  • create a DNS entry

TLS Certificates

A customized vanity URL will require a certificate for transport layer security (TLS, previously known as SSL), which allows the use of HTTPS to protect communications with encryption between your users and our application. The certificate must be specifically made with your selected URL name, so that when a user visits the application, the URL in the browser matches the name in the certificate, and no security warnings are displayed.

Services called Certificate Authorities (or CAs) create certificates by vetting the certificate request’s validity and providing a digital signature.  Institutions should already have a relationship with a CA for other campus web sites. You can request a certificate from your institution’s preferred CA for your chosen URL, and then share this certificate with Campus Labs.  The full certificate (that is to say, both the public and private keys) should be sent to us in password-protected PFX archive format via email, SFTP, or secure web site; if you’d prefer one of the latter two options, let us know. We encourage you to convey the password to us via phone for security reasons.

Note: Campus Labs does not accept wildcard certificates from campuses for security purposes.

Domain Name Services (DNS)

Your institution's network administrator (networking group, central IT department, etc.) can use DNS to route requests for the custom vanity URL to Engage.

The DNS record should be an alias record (or CNAME) entry in your DNS zone that points the custom vanity URL you selected at our services.

The specific host name you will need to use is:

Sites hosted in the United States: engagevanity.campuslabs.com

Sites hosted in Canada: custom.campuslabs.ca

It is important to create a CNAME instead of a direct IP address record (or A record) so that any future hosting changes on our part do not require intervention on your part. 

To begin the process of utilizing a vanity URL for your Community:

  1. Determine the URL you want to use. We recommend working with your campus marketing team to decide what would work best for your campus. Most campuses use their Engage community brand in conjunction with their .edu site. For example: {your Engage community brand}.{yourinstitution}.edu.
  2. Make sure you own your chosen vanity URL, or buy it if it isn’t a part of your campus domain. You can purchase domains through a variety of different third-party vendors but we'd recommend to work closely with your IT team or Marketing team to complete the purchase.
  3. Send this Vanity URL article to your IT team because it contains all of the information needed in order to begin the vanity URL setup process.
  4. Your IT team will need to send the passworded TLS certificate information along to our support team in order to start the process of getting the vanity URL officially configured for your community. Have them email this information to support@campuslabs.com.
  5. Once the secure TLS certificate is emailed, please call our support team (716-270-0000) to verbally give the password so that our team can access the secure TLS certificate.

Please contact Campus Labs Support (support@campuslabs.com) with any additional questions or concerns you have about the custom vanity URL process, and we will be happy to assist you!

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