Domain names and URLs
Domain names and URLs are an important touchpoint as they are accessed at the initial stages of a user journey. For this reason, all web addresses are evaluated for their contribution as a precursor to a positive user experience. Based on the URL format and choice of label used, users will make assumptions about the content, functionality and orientation of the page or application in the website’s hierarchical structure prior to initiating their visit. Keep in mind that you are competing with a trusted search engine as a way to initiate this stage of the user experience.
With that in mind, use domain names and URLs to simplify user access to information and services. A measured and coordinated approach is important when managing these touchpoints. Without a disciplined approach applied to managing domains and URLs in addition to the associated communication tools that reference them, managing these touchpoints can contribute to a degraded experience for users and inefficient use of resources to track and manage.
As part of the One Government Strategy, we are pursuing a policy of reducing the number, and variety of government websites available to citizens. As a result of this policy, we will be converging all government websites onto saskatchewan.ca, which will become the primary domain authority for the Government of Saskatchewan.
Ministries must use saskatchewan.ca as their primary domain. The use of other domain names and extensions (eg .com, .org, .net) will only be permitted for defensive purposes and must be redirected to the primary saskatchewan.ca domain.
These guidelines apply to all new Government of Saskatchewan websites. Existing domain names registered before these guidelines are regarded as exceptional and do not set a precedent.
Benefits of this approach:
Reduces wasteful expenditures by eliminating the need to constantly purchase, maintain, and renew domain names throughout government.
- Creates a degree of reassurance for the public, that the information and applications under the saskatchewan.ca umbrella are directly associated with the Government of Saskatchewan and portray a source which is: official, identifiable, trustworthy, and publicly accountable for the quality of information.
- Increases the content equity and ranking within search engine results (SEO), as they consider all content under a single domain interrelated. As opposed to using multiple domain names, which dilutes the equity of the content by causing the websites to compete against each other for ranking.
- Simplified advertising via a consistent “saskatchewan.ca” treatment for promotional website addresses on Government of Saskatchewan materials. This allows citizens to discover the content naturally on saskatchewan.ca, gaining substantial costs savings from no longer having to update material when a website address is updated or removed.
Online services & Applications
Second-level domains (sub-domains) of saskatchewan.ca must be used for all online services provided by the Government of Saskatchewan, including situations where a ministry has contracted out the development and/or support to a third party. This sends a clear message to citizens that the Government of Saskatchewan is responsible and accountable for this service, even though someone else might be providing it.
Second-level domain example: servicename.saskatchewan.ca
Web Content to Supporting Campaigns
High-value and promotional content must reside on saskatchewan.ca, not as a separate entity or “micro-site”. If required, a top-level directory on saskatchewan.ca may be used for emphasizing high-value and promotional content. All new content should be produced on the principle of strengthening the reputation, weight and reliability of saskatchewan.ca, both with citizens and SEO.
Top-level directory example: saskatchewan.ca/contentname
Ministries must use saskatchewan.ca as their primary promotional web address. This consistency reinforces the domain authority of saskatchewan.ca being the “single point of truth” online for the Government of Saskatchewan. In some cases it may be determined that a more direct promotional address is required (vanity URL), the top-level domain with a directory will be considered acceptable. A vanity URL is not to be used as a permanent location for content, but acts as a redirect to the permanent content location on saskatchewan.ca.
Must not be a single topic.
- Overview page.
- Promotional content (start and stop) Actively promoted - Currently in market.
Vanity URL example: saskatchewan.ca/contentname
Content location example: saskatchewan.ca/directory/directory/directory/contentname
Redirects and Defensive Redirects
Redirects of a top-level domain must only be used as a defensive strategy. The objective of a defensive redirect is risk management – to avoid or reduce occurrences of:
typosquatting (common misspellings of the domain name)
- cybersquatting (registration of domain names reflecting or similar to the names of existing Government content with the intention of selling the names back to you or for using them for bad faith purposes)
- cybersmearing (where anonymous authors set up web sites that spread alternative, false or disparaging information)
Defensive redirecting is not necessary for all domains, and should only be implemented when a previously used Government of Saskatchewan domain is at risk of cybersquatting. A defensive redirect must act as a redirect to primary Government of Saskatchewan domain saskatchewan.ca.