Sites@Duke Express: Requesting Custom (Vanity) Domains


When a site is created within Sites@Duke Express, the site name is appended to a fixed domain of*. Is it possible to use a custom domain instead - one that is unique and better serves the subject matter?



We now have a process called domain mapping which allows us to overlay or mask the* domain with an approved third-level domain, also known as a vanity domain / vanity URL. The site visitor will navigate to the third-level domain and never see the default domain,


Important: Your site's visibility must be set to public in order to map a vanity domain. If your site is meant to be restricted to NetID users, you will not want to follow this process.


The following process covers third-level domains off of Fourth-level domains off of customarily require authorization from the departmental IT group responsible for the DNS Zone, which adds an extra step to the process. This process is also followed for .org requests. Requests for .com are discouraged because most groups making this request will not fall under a commercial purpose.


Regardless of third or fourth level domain, we are now required to have a web accessibility review of your site before the mapping can be completed. With this in mind, please understand that the web accessibility review pertains to the content and menu structure. You must have at least 95% of your website completed before an accessibility review can be conducted. For web accessibility best practices, please visit





  1. See for information about third-level domain approval process and request form. Please use the request form even if you already own the domain through a third party domain registrar (ex. GoDaddy). If you have a pre-existing custom domain, it will need to be transferred under the ownership of our partner registrar, Safe Names. The request form can be found here:

  2. If and when your domain is approved, please open a ticket with the service desk via which specifies your URL and the approved vanity domain that you would like to use. That ticket will be routed to Web Services-OIT. 

  3. The Web Accessibility Office will then be notified to do an accessibility review, as this is a required prerequisite to launch. Accessibility evaluation of a website normally takes 4-5 days. Depending on the results of the accessibility review, you may receive a remediation report with required changes.

  4.  The Sites Express team will then take steps to ensure the SSL Certificate is created, which certifies that web traffic to the vanity domain is secure. In most third level domain cases, they will also create the record in AKA that points the vanity domain to In the event that the third level domain is controlled by DHTS, the Sites Express team will have to notify Web Services - DHTS for assistance, which could have a 2-3 day turnaround. In the event that a fourth level domain is used, the IT support group who owns the third level will need to be notified via ServiceNow ticket, which could also have a 2-3 day turnaround. 

  5. Once we have the SSL Certificate and the site has passed the accessibility review, we will map the vanity domain to the respective site during our weekly maintenance period on Thursdays.  Barring any substantial accessibility or domain approval issues, we normally complete mappings the week after the initial request was submitted.


If you have a deadline, please explicitly specify your desired launch date in the request and submit it as early as possible. We will make efforts to accommodate urgent (same week) requests but we cannot rush certain aspects of the process. 



Article number: KB0032806

Valid to: September 28, 2024