The information in this blogpost may now be out of date. See the current GOV.UK content and publishing guidance.
We often get asked by departments and agencies if they can have short URLs on GOV.UK. This blog post explains when we create them and how to request them.
You should read the URL standards for GOV.UK before you make a request. All GOV.UK URLs, short or long, must meet these standards.
Types of short URL on GOV.UK
There are 3 types of short URL on GOV.UK.
Content owned by a single organisation
This is the most common type of short URL. It includes the organisation name within the URL structure, and usually points to content within the 'departments and policy' section of the site.
Campaigns and heavily promoted content
We usually need evidence that a short URL will be heavily promoted offline before allocating a 'root-level' URL.
These URLs don't have dashes in them. The final format depends heavily on how they'll be used, eg in radio ads vs in print.
The case for these URLs is stronger if content comes from more than one government department or agency.
Organisation or agency name
Most organisations on GOV.UK already have a short URL for their organisation homepage - it's usually part of the transition process. If your organisation is transitioning and doesn't have one yet, ask your transition manager to request this via Zendesk.
When to request a short URL
When asking for a short URL, you should provide evidence that:
- Your short URL is needed for offline marketing and promotion (eg, number of existing users with this need, number of users who will be targeted, expected size and duration of the user need or campaign).
- The URL is specific to the content and will make sense forever - the more specific the URL, the easier this is to prove. A good example is https://www.gov.uk/budget2014.
- How many government departments or organisations will create or own the content the short URL points to.
How to request a short URL
To get a short URL, submit a new feature request at least 2 weeks before you need it.
Include all your evidence with your request. Remember, URLs can't have capital letters in them.
What happens next
Short URL decisions are made by the Product team. Someone from the GOV.UK Product team will get in touch with you to discuss your request within 2 days.
If GDS accepts your request, the next step is to agree the wording of your proposed short URL. Ideally, we'd like to confirm the words in the future short URL as early as possible.
When your short URL goes live
For technical reasons, GDS can only create short URLs for live content. You should make sure your content is published by the date
you need the short URL to be live.
Because short URLs can only point to live content, please don't publicise your short URLs until both the content and the short URL are
live. You'll just send your users to a 'This page cannot be found' error page.
And that's it! Ask away if you have any questions - we're happy to talk about short URLs.
Note (July 2014): we've turned comments off on this page, as for some reason it's become a magnet for spam. If you have any questions, please use the normal request form, and we'll publish the answers here if needed.