Future Media Standards & Guidelines

URL Requirements v1.04 (superseded)

1. Introduction

1.1 This document describes the requirements for the creation of acceptable web addresses or URLs for the BBC's public service web site www.bbc.co.uk.

1.2 In order to provide consistency of presentation and to protect the BBC brand, there are specific requirements relating to the promotion of BBC web addresses.

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2. Terminology

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
The address of a web site or file on the web.
Host name
www.bbc.co.uk is the server host name for bbc.co.uk.
Domain name
bbc.co.uk is the domain name for bbc.co.uk.
Directory
A container for a group of files, also known as a folder on some systems.
Top Level Directory
A directory that exists at the top level of the site structure and so immediately follows the host name, separated by a slash.
Sub-directory
A directory that exists within another directory.

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3. URL requirements

3.1 Host name

3.1.1. The host name for the BBC public service web site is www.bbc.co.uk.

3.1.2. The brand identity for the BBC public service web site is bbc.co.uk.

3.1.3. Other host or domain names MUST NOT be employed or promoted in connection with BBC public service web sites. This includes sub-domains of bbc.co.uk, such as jobs.bbc.co.uk and news.bbc.co.uk.

3.1.4. Some domain names are defensively purchased and managed by the BBC in order to prevent possible misuse by third parties and to protect BBC brands. Such domain names MUST NOT be promoted to redirect traffic to BBC public service web sites. Use of non-bbc.co.uk domain names MUST comply with BBC Domain Names Policy.

3.2. Directory Naming Conventions

3.2.1. Only a Top Level Directory SHOULD be promoted in connection with BBC public service web sites. Therefore there MUST only be one slash after the hostname when promoted in print or on air.

3.2.2. Where a site or service is associated with a BBC brand, radio or television programme title, the directory name MUST reflect the existing brand or title. Otherwise, a Top Level Directory name MUST reflect the editorial proposition of a site or service.

3.2.3. A directory name SHOULD NOT generally include a third-party business name or trade mark. Names of well-known celebrities MAY also present issues. All such cases MUST bereferred to Legal and Business Affairs.

3.2.4. A directory name MUST be unambiguous when written or spoken and SHOULD be short, memorable and easy to type.

3.2.5. Abbreviations SHOULD NOT generally be employed unless they are existing brands.

3.2.6. A generic directory name MUST NOT be used unless it is for an approved category, e.g.bbc.co.uk/talk, or for a core resource, e.g. bbc.co.uk/apps.

3.2.7. Multiple directory names MUST NOT be employed for the same site or service, UNLESS there is an operational justification to do so. For instance, it is NOT acceptable to have a directory as an alias for a possible misspelling.

3.2.8. A Top Level Directory name MUST NOT begin with the definite or indefinite article ('a', 'an', 'the'), even if this forms part of an existing brand or programme title.

3.2.9. A Top Level Directory name MUST NOT begin with the letters 'bbc'. The letters 'bbc' are already contained in the domain name and such repetition is redundant and cumbersome when printed, displayed on-screen or spoken on-air. The only exceptions to this are core BBC brands which MAY NOT be recognised without the 'bbc' prefix, e.g. 'bbcone', 'bbctwo'

3.2.10. Top Level Directory names for BBC web sites MUST only contain lower case alphanumericcharacters a ... z and 0 ... 9 and MUST NOT contain spaces or any other special characters.

3.2.11. It is generally inadvisable to include numeric characters, as these can be ambiguous when promoted on air.

3.3. Redirects

3.3.1. A Top Level Directory MAY be used to redirect a user to a subdirectory.

3.3.2. A redirect MUST always lead to a directory and MUST NOT lead to a specific file, unless this is a temporary solution to facilitate a site re-launch.

3.3.3. A redirect SHOULD point at its final destination rather than another redirected location.

3.3.4. A Top Level Directory MAY contain content or can act as a redirect to another location on a BBC-managed web server. For instance: " bbc.co.uk/news -> news.bbc.co.uk/ " bbc.co.uk/sport -> news.bbc.co.uk/sport

3.3.5. Marketing

3.3.5.1. All BBC public service web sites and services MUST be promoted using the followingsyntax:

3.3.5.2. bbc.co.uk/sitename: The URL SHOULD be pronounced as: 'bbc dot co dot uk slash sitename'. The 'slash' element MUST NOT be read aloud as 'forward slash'.

3.3.6. Details of how this SHOULD be displayed in print and on-screen can be found in the bbc.co.uk Brand Guidelines [Internal BBC document internal BBC doc – gain access via your Technical Account Manager].

3.3.7. URLs MUST NOT be printed on TV programme material (e.g. credits, trails) or promotionalliterature (e.g. posters, leaflets) before the URLs have been approved and set up. The address MUST be checked in a browser before going to print. If the site is not ready for publication, see section 7 regarding Holding Pages.

3.3.8. URLs MUST NOT be printed in upper case. bbc.co.uk/BBCONE and BBC.CO.UK/BBCONE are NOT the same as bbc.co.uk/bbcone and the upper case examples will not work.

3.4. URLs on TV

3.4.1. On television a URL MUST always be displayed on screen in the form: bbc.co.uk/sitename.

Presenters SHOULD NOT say 'email us', followed by the display of a BBC URL on-screen. In these instances, the actual related BBC email address MUST be shown.

3.5. URLs on Radio

3.5.1. Sub-directories of URLs MUST NOT be promoted.

3.5.2. For example, the Radio 4 Today programme site MUST be promoted using the URL bbc.co.uk/today and NOT bbc.co.uk/radio4/today.

3.5.3. To direct listeners to a mini-site within a network site, for example the Chris Moyles page/mini-site within the Radio 1 site, it is sufficient to promote the Radio 1 URL bbc.co.uk/radio1. From there, radio presenters can advise listeners to 'click on the link for the Chris Moyles site'.

3.6. Clickable links

3.6.1. If a URL being promoted needs to be clickable then the host name www.bbc.co.uk MUST be used for the link target address. bbc.co.uk MUST NOT be used.

3.6.2. Links to www0.bbc.co.uk MUST NOT be used.

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4. Requesting a URL

4.1. Requests for new URLs or URL redirects MUST be submitted to Red Bee Interactive Operations usingthe online form [Internal BBC document internal BBC doc – gain access via your Technical Account Manager].

4.2. Requesters can normally anticipate a 5 day turnaround on such requests (from editorial confirmation to implementation).

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5. Authorising a URL

5.1. Red Bee Interactive Operations are responsible for managing the process of vetting and signing off on BBC URLs.

5.2. In requesting a URL, please note that it is possible that the URL you want is already reserved for use by another department.

5.3. On those occasions where problems or conflicts of interest MAY arise, the Editor, NM Standards & Guidelines ultimately reserves the right to make the final decision in case of a dispute.

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6. Statistics

6.1. When a new URL is established, site owners are advised to formally request statistical reporting,as this is not an activity that happens automatically.

6.2. To request site reporting, contact the BBCi Stats Team, providing details of any site specific URLs as well as the name of the site (exactly as it SHOULD appear in reports) and the division the site SHOULD be reported under.

6.3. In general, only sites in top level directories are considered for reporting, although exceptions can be made where there is a business requirement or the site in question attracts a significant amount of traffic. (This does not apply to URLs in News & Sport divisions where there is a different structure for URLs.)

6.4. Note that there is no reporting of redirected URLs. Redirects are always filtered out of the BBC's statistics.

6.5. For further advice on matters concerning statistics and reporting for BBC web sites, please contact the BBCi Stats Team.

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7. Holding Pages

7.1. When a URL has been set up, the site/service owner SHOULD ensure that a holding page is published there. For instance, if the site/service is not immediately ready for public viewing, this could be used to inform users of the launch date.

7.2. Top level directories MUST NOT resolve to an error page. If a top level redirect is requested, the target site or a holding page SHOULD be published before making the request. If this is not possible, the URL request SHOULD also indicate a temporary target site to point to until the new site is ready e.g. a redirect to /drama/shakespeare might point to /drama until the new sub-site is published.

7.3. For further advice on holding pages or URL redirects, please contact Red Bee Interactive Operations webmasters.

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8. Decommissioning a URL

8.1. Red Bee Interactive Operations are responsible for performing periodic reviews of existing BBC URLs.

8.2. Red Bee Interactive Operations will, in conjunction with the Editor, Standards & Guidelines and the relevant site/service owner, make a decision as to whether or not URLs which do not perform their original intended function SHOULD remain or – if appropriate – be reassigned for another use.

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9. Sub domains

9.1 Promotion of sub-domains forces the business into supporting non-technical domains. This also results in inconsistency of branding, unnecessarily complex stats and a loss of search engine rankings.

9.2 Sub-domains MUST ONLY be used for new technical infrastructure requirements; and MUST NOT be used for editorial or promotional purposes.

9.3 You MUST NOT promote a link other than those specified in this URL standard. If you wish to promote a service hosted on technology separated by a sub-domain, you MUST redirect from the agreed link format, as in the following example:

  • news.bbc.co.uk –  hosted on separate technology to bbc.co.uk
  • bbc.co.uk/news/ – Public promotion
  • www.bbc.co.uk/news/ – Public promotion alternative

9.4 Any application for a new sub-domain MUST be submitted to both the Senior Technical Architect and Head of Editorial Affairs for their joint approval.

9.5 All approved public-facing sub-domains can be found at: http://braeburn.tv.bbc.co.uk/confluence/display/Infra/SubDomainOfBbcCoUk [Internal BBC document internal link – gain access via your Technical Account Manager]

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10. Contacts

10.1. For advice on marketing and promotions, please contact the Head of Marketing and Communications, New Media.

10.2. For legal advice on domain name issues, please contact the Head of Legal and Business Affairs, New Media.

10.3. For further advice on URL issues, please contact Red Bee Media.

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11. Note

3.1.1 and 3.3.5 do not apply to World Service, which has different branding requirements.

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12. Document history

DateVersionChangeAuthor
12/09/2006 v1.04 Inclusion of section (9) on sub-domains. Tred Magill
18/11/2005 v1.03 Minor changes to Redirects and Clickable links sections; removed line from Statistics section regarding client side redirects. Caroline Yates
18/11/2005 v1.02 Editorial changes; minor amendments following feedback; restored and updated Holding Pages section. Caroline Yates
10/11/2005 v1.01 Updated to reflect Branding guidelines; removed sub-directory naming convention; added references to Domain Name Policy; added Clickable Links section; removed Holding Pages section Caroline Yates
05/10/2001 v1.00 Minor amendments following feedback & endorsement from Web Standards Group. William Cooper
04/10/2001 v0.13 Amendments to structure from William Cooper. William Cooper
03/10/2001 v0.12 Added Decommissioning URL section; removed 3rd-party Hosting section; editorial changes throughout, restructured document following feedback from William Cooper.
18/08/2001 v0.11 General editorial updates; revised Naming & Spelling Conventions, plus made changes to URL Redirects section
06/08/2001 v0.10 Added Definitions section, made minor editorial amendments throughout
23/07/2001 v0.9 Revised Promotions section to become Marketing; general editorial changes
18/07/2001 v0.8 Various editorial changes
16/07/2001 v0.7 Added Domain Names section
13/07/2001 v0.6 Minor editorial changes
12/07/2001 v0.5 Added 3rd Party Hosting section + Contents page
12/07/2001 v0.4 Amendments to Branding and Statistics sections
11/07/2001 v0.3 Amendments to Statistics section
10/07/2001 v0.2 Minor additions
09/07/2001 v0.1 Initial draft Gavin Lennon

Document editor: Editor, Standards & Guidelines. If you have any comments, questions or requests relating to this document, please contact the Editor, Standards & Guidelines.

Like all other Future Media Standards & Guidelines, this page is updated on a regular basis, through the process described on About Standards & Guidelines.

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