Make your site live

Level: Site Owner; Site Admin

Follow the below checklist to ensure a smooth go-live of your site. 

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Before putting your site live, look over it without logging in to see what it will look like to your website users. You may also wish to invite your stakeholders to review the site and sign-it off as ready.

  • Ensure that the option to ‘Restrict site viewing to Content Editors only?’ in Site Settings > Visibility is unchecked – otherwise stakeholders who don’t have editing rights will not be able to see your site

To see how your site looks in Mobiles and Tablets, use the Responsive Preview. This provides an approximation of how your webpages look in different devices depending on the size of their display port.

  • Log in, go to the Mobile icon in the top right of the editing menu and choose a device to preview:
Screenshot of the mobile device preview dropdown
The mobile device preview dropdown at the top right of the editing menu

The Oxford Mosaic charging model doesn’t distinguish between live and non-live sites, but putting your site live will make a noticeable difference to one of the metrics on which charging is based, i.e. the number of hits per quarter. You may want to review your overall site’s usage metrics at this point, so that you have some idea of what to expect.

When a new website is created on the Oxford Mosaic platform it is provisioned with a platform address of <prefix>.web.ox.ac.uk where <prefix> has the value that was supplied on the Site Request form. This address is suitable to be used as a public web address for your site. In this case, there is no need to setup or configure another address and you can put your site live whenever you are ready to do so.

However, you may wish to use a custom domain name with your site, either by registering a new address or switching over an existing one – if you are replacing a website you already have elsewhere, for example. Domain registration and hosting is separate to web-hosting and is largely managed independently of the Mosaic platform – your local IT Support Staff can assist. Acquiring and using a custom domain for your site is a multi-step process and you should review the guidance on using a custom domain with your site carefully.

  •  Custom domains are normally available without charge, however charges do apply in specific cases: e.g. for the use of some types of non *.ox.ac.uk domains or if you wish to use a custom domain on a site where you restrict access to view some pages to members of the University of Oxford only.

If you are switching an existing domain name from an old site to your new Mosaic one, it is a courtesy to inform the current manager of your domain, if this is not already the central Networks team. Around the University, domain management for websites on unit domains are often devolved to local IT managers, but as domain management for Mosaic sites is done centrally, this responsibility will transfer once your Mosaic site goes live.

 

DNS changes should be scheduled in good time:

  • The Domain Name System makes use of caching to route requests more efficiently without the need to look-up the routing each time. Reducing the TTL (Time To Live) setting for your domain shortens the time that servers will rely on their cached information before going back to the source nameserver to check that the routing is still up-to-date. If you are switching a domain name from an old site to your new Mosaic one, you may want to ask the manager of your existing domain host (usually your local IT Manager or the central Networks team) to reduce the TTL down to 10 minutes, 7 days in advance of the switch. This will mean that when the switch-over is made servers around the world will pick up the change much faster. Without changing the TTL the switch may take 24-48 hours to fully propogate around the world, although this will be much faster for local traffic. The original TTL setting should be reinstated after the switch has completed.
  • You can ask the Networks team to schedule the work for a specific day and time. DNS updates are made on the hour. A minimum of 3 working days’ notice is helpful. If your go live date is critical and/or your request is complex in any way you should allow more time, ideally 1-2 weeks.
  • Otherwise, DNS updates will be actioned as soon after receiving a request as possible – this may be the next day.

Other considerations:

  • If you wish to have a custom domain on your site and also to restrict viewing of specific pages to members of the University of Oxford only, this requires an update to the platform SSL Certificate so that web users with Oxford SSO usernames can login to your site using this address through an encrypted channel that protects their username and password. A minimum of 10 working days’ notice is required.
  •  As this is an update to a third-party service, a setup and admin charge of £250 will be made.
  • If you want Oxsearch to re-crawl your site shortly after launch (not normally needed - see ‘Update Search Engine indexes’ below), you should request this a minimum of 5 working days in advance.
  • Don’t put your site live in the middle of a critical work period or just before a deadline where web users will be relying on an existing site staying stable.
  • Choose a quiet time where there will be editors available to answer any queries from users as they get used to the new site.
  • Larger, more complex or high profile sites should avoid days where a release is scheduled to be made to Mosaic. Scheduled maintenance is 8‑10 am on Thursday mornings and releases are typically made fortnightly. You can contact oxfordmosaic@it.ox.ac.uk to check a specific date.
  • It can be advisable to avoid Fridays, so that there is time to respond to user feedback quickly. From a technical perspective, this is not an issue unless your site is implementing a significant new feature.

If you are moving your site into Mosaic from elsewhere, your web users will already have bookmarked key content on your existing site. You may also have distributed URLs by email or in printed materials. If, when you move your site, the URLs for these pages are not the same – either because you are changing the domain name of the site, and/or because you are moving the page to a different location – users following these links after your site goes live will not find the content and instead will experience broken links. As well as being inconvenient for your users, this can adversely affect the ranking of your site pages in Search results listings.

To help manage this impact, the Mosaic platform provides a raft of tools for you to setup redirect rules for individual pages and batches of pages. Redirects can be created within your Mosaic site or send requests to an external site – this can be particularly useful if you are not moving the whole of your site to Mosaic and want to continue to reference content which will be held elsewhere.

To manage your go-live you will need to know which URLs you need to continue to support. Your current site statistics will highlight which pages are the most popular. Inspect your Google Analytics reports (if you use this on your pages) or webserver logs to retrieve this information.

To manage your URLs and redirects for your site go-live, the order of work is as follows:

Before go-live:

  • Identify the list of URLs you need to redirect
  • Populate the redirect rules in your site at Site Settings > URLs and redirects
  • Test out the redirects on your site’s platform address, <sitename>.web.ox.ac.uk and tweak if necessary
  • Optionally, add your own text to the Custom 404 (page not found) message – for example, this can link people to your homepage or an information page you have provided when a page they have requested is missing

After go-live:

  • Test out the redirects on your site’s Primary Domain
  • Run the Missing pages report to see URLs that have been requested which resulted in a 404 page not found message being delivered to the user – you may wish to add redirects for any popular requests that you are not already managing
  • If you use Google Analytics on your site, view its reports to identify further adjustments that may be usefully made

View the Site Settings > Visibility tab to see what controls are set to manage the visibility of your site. If you have not altered this since the site was provisioned, it will be set as below:

screenshot of the visibility tab in site settings

When you are ready to go-live:

  •  Click the checkbox to un-hide the site from Search Engines (this updates the robots.txt file)
  •  Ensure that the option to ‘Restrict site viewing to Content Editors only?’ is also unchecked

Mosaic provides simple traffic analytics for your website via the Site Settings > Site statistics (Last 30 days) tab. This is enabled by default and is sufficient to provide basic stats for your site.

If, however, you want make use of the sophisticated traffic analysis tools made available by Google Analytics, you will need to add a Google Analytics tracking ID to your site by the time of launch. If you do not already have a Google Analytics account you will need to create one. Alternatively, you may transfer the ID from an existing site when you switch over a domain, in which case you may want to review the settings or any filters you are using within Google Analytics to see if they need to be updated to work optimally with your new site, e.g. if you have largely changed the URL scheme.

Note that your site’s Visibility settings (under the Site Settings > Visibility tab) do not apply to the Google Analytics tracking: restricting viewing of pages to content editors or hiding pages from search engines won’t make any difference to the inclusion of hits on your site pages - the hits will still be registered in Google Analytics.

Once your Mosaic site is live and you have checked the site and redirects are working correctly, you may want search engines to re-index your site, to update the entries that users will be searching for.

This is an advanced feature and is not essential – search engines re-index sites regularly anyway. However, for important sites, and to protect search rankings, it is useful to do this as soon as possible. The most relevant places to do this are:

  • Google Search, using the Google Search Console (login with Google account required; see also information on Wikipedia)
  • Oxsearch: the University’s enterprise web search service, using Funnelback

Submitting updates to the Google Search index falls outside of the Mosaic web service, but local IT Support Staff can assist. The Mosaic platform provides technical support in several ways: site Visibility settings control the robots.txt file; and for each visible site a Sitemap file is provided at /sitemap.xml for submitting a list of all site pages to Google.

  •  If you are moving an existing site onto Mosaic that was formerly available over https it is important that search engine indexes and other links into the site are updated as soon as possible. For more information, see the Avoid Security Alerts section below.

The Oxsearch index crawls University sites every night to pick up changes. If required, you can schedule an interim crawl of your site during the day of launch once the site is live; contact help@it.ox.ac.uk  to request this.

The Mosaic platform itself uses its own internal search to provide searching on Mosaic websites, using the Solr search engine. Content added or changed on the platform is updated in search results every hour. 

In the specific case (only) that you are moving an existing website onto Mosaic, where this site had its own domain name and was primarily made available over https, you need to take further action to reduce the risk of users seeing security alerts in their browser once the site has gone live on Mosaic. Users may report seeing browser alerts stating ‘Your connection is not private’. Alerts are generated when users follow https links which they have bookmarked or which appear in other sites linking in to the site. They will not appear just by users browsing the site.

The Oxford Mosaic platform supports https:

  • For all sites, by default, which use the platform URL (<sitename>.web.ox.ac.uk) as their primary, public URL
  • For custom domains on sites which choose to restrict access to some pages to members of the University of Oxford only, on payment of the one-off fee to configure the SSL certificate to enable https support for the domain

Mosaic does not currently support https on sites with custom domains having only public content. In this case, since the content is meant to be public, supporting security to verify private pages is not necessary. However, since some existing sites make all pages available over https rather than http, this can cause difficulties when migrating to Mosaic.

In future, it is intended to add support for https for all sites using custom domains, whether or not they have private or only public content, but in the meantime, the following actions to update links pointing to the site will address the issue:

It is helpful for the support team to know when sites are live, so that we are aware of how sites are being used and can prioritise support requests appropriately. It is also useful to have advance notice of any actions that the support team will need to carry out to support your site’s launch. Contact the Support desk by emailing oxfordmosaic@it.ox.ac.uk

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