Make your site live

Level: Site Owner; Site Admin

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

For managing the move of a larger website with an existing domain, you can use our example Go Live Planner to track the go-live activities.

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

Have you remembered to customise the mandatory Footer statements?

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> 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 set up 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 * domains.

If you are switching an existing domain name from an old site to your new Mosaic one, you will normally need to contact the current manager of your domain. Around the University, domain management for websites on unit domains is usually devolved to local IT staff.

Once your custom domain has been set up, it will need to be added to the Mosaic Platform's SSL Security Certificate.


In order to ensure that your website users do not see security alerts in their browser, your website's domain name needs to have an entry in the Mosaic Platform's SSL Security Certificate. This enables all Mosaic sites to be securely served over the HTTPS protocol.

If your site uses the platform domain as its web address - URLs of the format <prefix>, where 'prefix' is the name entered for the site on the Site Request form - it will already be covered by the SSL Certificate.

If you are adding a custom domain to use with your site, this needs to be added to the SSL Certificate. You need to tell us in good time so that we can add it before your site goes live. Updates of the SSL Certificate are every two weeks. We can add your domain to the certificate before your site is ready to go live, even if it is currently in use on another website. However, it is important that this is done before your site goes live to avoid security alerts appearing in browsers.

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, especially the need to add a custom domain to the platform's SSL Security Certificate. Contact the Mosaic team

DNS changes should be scheduled in good time:

  • Contact your local IT Manager well in advance of your planned go-live date.
  • If your domain is managed by the Central Networks team, you can request the work is scheduled 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.
  • 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 is optional. Reducing it would shorten 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) 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 propagate around the world, although this will be much faster for local traffic. The original TTL setting should be reinstated two days after go-live.

Other considerations:

  • 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 when 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 us to check a specific date.
  • It would 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.

The Mosaic platform provides a raft of tools to help manage this impact. If you are moving from one Mosaic site to another, you can use redirect rules for individual pages and batches of pages. Redirects can be created from your Mosaic site to send requests to an external site also – 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. If you are moving from elsewhere to Mosaic, you can support changes to page paths by creating page aliases on your Mosaic site.

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> 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

Site Statistics

The Site Statistics page within Site Settings was removed at the end of June 2023. This was due to a change imposed by Google Analytics. More information was communicated to users on 17 May 2023 and can be found in an article about Universal Analytics changes. We will continue to update Mosaic documentation to reflect the changes.


If you want to 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.

You will only need to do this if you have concerns and want to ask Google to re-index your site after its launch. You will have to prove to Google that you own the site by following the steps outlined on the documentation for verifying domain ownership in Google Search Console.


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.

Contact the Mosaic team

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 because 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. To request Google Search re-indexing, use Google Search Console (login with Google account required; see also information on Wikipedia). Other major search engines provide their own methods for requesting re-indexing.

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.

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.