Planning Redirects When Replacing a Site

If you already have a website, launching a new site will break many or all of the links and bookmarks to the pages on your old site.

Understanding redirects

A redirect automatically forwards a website’s visitors from one URL, or web address, to another. When your new site launches, redirects ensure that visitors following old links or bookmarks end up on the right page of your new site.

For example, the URL for a page called “Our Programs” may change as follows:

  • Old site: website.wustl.edu/Pages/programs
  • New site: website.wustl.edu/our-programs

After the new site launches, the URL website.wustl.edu/Pages/programs will cease to exist.

Without redirects

If visitors tried to follow an old link to a page and no redirect were there to catch them, they’d land on a “Page Not Found” message like this one (womp, womp ).


Preparing your redirects with a spreadsheet

We recommend organizing your old and new links by making a spreadsheet with these columns:

  1. Page name
  2. URL from the old site
  3. Corresponding URL for that page on the new site
  4. Change: Yes or no?

Change = Yes

It can be tricky at first to tell whether a page’s current URL and it’s soon-to-be-domain-mapped URL will be the same.

The key is to look at the part of the URL after your WashU Sites title, e.g. sites.wustl.edu/sitetitle/look-here/and-maybe-here-too.

Example 1:

  • You have a page on your current website called “Classes.” Its URL is abc.wustl.edu/classes.
  • The URL on your WashU Sites website is sites.wustl.edu/abc/undergraduate-classes.
  • The URL above will convert to abc.wustl.edu/undergraduate-classes.
  • You will need to set a redirect, otherwise traffic to abc.wustl.edu/classes will result in a “Page not found” message.

Example 2:

  • You have a page on your current website called “Undergraduate” that’s a subpage of “Degree Programs.” Its URL is abc.wustl.edu/degree-programs/undergraduate.
  • The URL on your WashU Sites website is sites.wustl.edu/abc/education/undergraduate.
  • The URL above will convert to abc.wustl.edu/education/undergraduate after we complete the domain mapping process.
  • You will need to set a redirect, otherwise traffic to abc.wustl.edu/degree-programs/undergraduate will result in a “Page not found” message.

Example 3: URLs ending in .aspx, .html, etc.

If your current website’s pages have endings like .aspx, .html, etc. you’ll need to set redirects for them, even if the page title and location within the site stay the same.

Example:

  • You have a page on your current website called “Labs” that’s a subpage of “Research.” Its URL is abc.wustl.edu/research/labs.aspx.
  • The URL on your WashU Sites website is sites.wustl.edu/abc/research/labs.
  • Even though the URL above will become abc.wustl.edu/research/labs after launch, that’s not the same as /research/labs.aspx.

Change = No

Example 1:

  • You have a page on your current website called “Conferences” that’s a subpage of “Events.” Its URL is abc.wustl.edu/events/conferences.
  • The URL on your WashU Sites website is sites.wustl.edu/abc/events/conferences.
  • The URL above will convert to abc.wustl.edu/events/conferences after we complete the domain mapping process.
  • You do not have to set a redirect.

Example 2: Capitalization

  • You have a page on your current website called “Labs.” Its URL is abc.wustl.edu/Labs.
  • The URL on your WashU Sites website is sites.wustl.edu/abc/labs.
  • The URL above will convert to abc.wustl.edu/labs after we complete the domain mapping process.
  • You do not have to set a redirect.

Up next: Setting redirects

Setting Redirects

A redirect automatically forwards a website’s visitors from one URL (web address) to another.