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 similar.

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 gives your users a feeling of familiarity and trust in using the application, and also ensures 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 Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate with Campus Labs
  • create a Domain Name System (DNS) entry for the URL

TLS Certificates

A customized vanity URL will require a certificate for TLS, previously known as SSL, which allows the use of HTTPS to encrypt communications 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.

Your Certificate Authority (CA) creates your certificate by verifying 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, both the public and private keys, must be sent to us in a password-protected personal exchange format (PFX) archive. The PFX archive can be sent to us either via email, SFTP, or other secure web site. We recommend calling us by phone to deliver the password. 

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

Domain Name Services (DNS)

Your institution's network administrator can use DNS to route requests for the custom vanity URL to Engage. The DNS record must be a CNAME alias record 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 for this alias is:

  • For United States: engagevanity.campuslabs.com
  • For Canada: custom.campuslabs.ca

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

Using a Vanity URL for your Community

  1. Determine the URL to be used. 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 you do not. You can purchase domains through a variety of different third-party vendors but work with your IT or Marketing teams to complete the purchase.
  3. Forward the above information to your IT team. This contains all of the information needed in order to create the vanity URL.
  4. Your IT team must send the encrypted TLS certificate information to our support team. Have them email this information to support@campuslabs.com.
  5. Call our support team at 716-270-0000 to deliver the password.

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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