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 specific 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

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.


  1. See for information about third-level domain approval process and request form. If you have a pre-existing custom domain, it will need to be transferred under the ownership of our partner domain registrar Safe Names. Please use the request form even if you already own the domain through a third party domain registrar (ex. GoDaddy). 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 created URL and the vanity domain that you would like to use. That ticket will be routed to Wordpress-Level 2-OIT. 

  3. The Sites Express team will make the proper request for the SSL Certificate which certifies that web traffic to the vanity domain should have the target of Depending on the vanity domain, this could take several days to be procured from the vendor.

  4. The Web Accessibility Office will then be notified to do an accessibility evaluation, as this is a requirement prior to launch. Accessibility evaluation of a website normally takes 2-3 days. Depending on the results of the accessibility review, you may receive a remediation report with required changes.

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

If your request has any time sensitivity, please explicitly specify a deadline in the ticket. We will make efforts to accommodate urgent requests but cannot rush certain aspects of the process. Please submit your requests as early as possible.

Article number: KB0032806

Valid to: July 5, 2024