Launching your website

Launching is a straight forward process. To kick off the process, email Columbia Sites once all content has been entered.

This will set in motion the steps necessary to launch, detailed below.

IMPORTANT: It takes approximately 2 weeks to launch your site from the time you notify us all content is entered.

BEWARE: Your staging site looks great; all links are working! Then the site launches to the live URL and all the links break. This is the number one problem clients get into if links are not created properly on the staging site. Internal links must be created properly!

Site Audit

A site audit will be conducted before the staging site is cleared to go live. The purpose of the audit is to make sure the site complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Level AA. 

The audit does not give feedback for subjective elements such as image choice, writing style, etc.. The audit is created using a combination of computer software and manual inspection. The most common issues that come from the audit are:

Once the audit report is sent, your team is responsible to make the necessary revisions.

Domain name approvals

Third-level domains versus fourth-level domains

Your website will launch on either a third- or fourth-level domain/url. Generally speaking:

  • Laboratories, department groups and student groups, receive fourth-level domains. An example of this naming convention is
  • Schools, departments, and administrative units receive third-level domains. An example of this naming convention is

Approval for third-level domains

Third-level domain names must be requested from and approved by CUIT hostmaster. This process can take a couple of weeks alone. If a third-level domain is necessary, request approval as early as possible. You do not need to wait until launch to request third-level domain approval

Approval must be granted prior to launch.

Review Columbia's Domain Name Policy to understand terms and eligibility for third-level domain names. 

Approval for fourth-level domains

Fourth-level domain names must be approved by the dean or vice president of the respective school or administrative unit. A simple email stating approval is fine.

Other steps to make your site live

CUIT will handle the rest of the tasks to make your site live:

  • migrate your staging site to the live environment
  • enable UNI login to the live site
  • verify the vhost
  • create the DNS entry so the site appears as expected when the URL is entered
  • add the live URL to Nagios Monitoring so it is included in checks on critical parameters of the network and server resources
  • protect your site behind Cloudflare, which integrates security and performance enhancements

Content freeze

In order for Columbia Sites to take the necessary steps to launch your site, there is a 48 hour content freeze prior to the go-live date. Columbia Sites will coordinate with you the exact date the content freeze starts.

Once your site is launched

Once your Columbia Sites website is launched, you should only revise the live site. Revising the staging site will not effect the live site and we do not port over any changes from the staging site to the live one once the site is launched.