Future Media Standards & Guidelines

URL Requirements v1.06

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.

Top of page

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.
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.
A directory that exists within another directory.

Top of page

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 online.

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.

3.2.4. Names of well-known celebrities can also present issues. If you intend to use a celebrity name, you MUST contact FM&T Legal and Business Affairs, UNLESS the named individual or individuals have already signed a BBC Talent Agreement which covers use of their name in this way. In the event that there is no signed BBC Talent Agreement but the content is already approved for broadcast on TV or Radio on the basis of a verbal agreement (e.g. where music sessions are aired), prior written approval from the Production Manager of the associated programme MUST be obtained. If in doubt, contact FM&T Legal and Business Affairs.

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

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

3.2.7. 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.

3.2.8. 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.

3.2.9. 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.

3.2.10. 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'

3.2.11. Top level directory names for BBC web sites MUST only contain lower case alphanumeric characters a ... z and 0 ... 9 and MUST NOT contain spaces or any other special characters.

3.2.12. 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

3.4. Marketing

3.4.1. All BBC public service web sites and services MUST be promoted using the following syntax:

  • bbc.co.uk/sitename

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

3.4.3. Details of how this SHOULD be displayed in print and on-screen can be found in the Digital Identity Style Guide.

3.4.4. URLs MUST NOT be printed on TV programme material (e.g. credits, trails) or promotional literature (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 below regarding holding pages.

3.4.5. 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.

3.5. URLs on TV

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

3.5.2. 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.

3.6. URLs on radio

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

3.6.2. 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.

3.6.3. 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'.

3.7. Clickable links

3.7.1. 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.

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

3.8. Access to TLDs

3.8.1. As stated in section 3.1.1. above, www.bbc.co.uk is the BBC's public service web site. Therefore, top level directories MUST have a public-serving purpose but MAY be restricted to a subset of the public (such as /emp, and /glow).

Top of page

4. Requesting a URL

4.1. Requests for new URLs or URL redirects MUST be submitted to Red Bee Interactive Operations using this online form if it is a redirect or this online form if it is a TLD which does not redirect [Internal BBC document internal BBC site – 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).

Top of page

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.

Top of page

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.

Top of page

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.

Top of page

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 relevant site/service owner, make a decision as to whether or not URLs that do not perform their original intended function SHOULD remain or – if appropriate – be reassigned for another use.

Top of page

9. Subdomains

9.1 Promotion of subdomains 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 Subdomains 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 subdomain, 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 subdomain 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]

Top of page

10. Contacts

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

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

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

Top of page

11. Note

Sections 3.1.1. and 3.4.1. do not apply to World Service, which has different branding requirements.

Top of page

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.