There are a number of factors to consider when setting up a University website. Where will it be hosted? Who will build it? What facilities are available to support the website? What guidelines do I need to follow? This guide aims to provide you with some basic information and some starting points. If you need further advice or information (or you’d like to add to what’s here), please contact us.

2. Hosting your Website

A crucial issue with any website is hosting. In the case of a University website, there are usually three main options:

  • Local hosting within your department or college – many departments and colleges run their own web servers and may be able to host your site on one of their servers.
  • Free web hosting with OUCS. OUCS provides non-personal accounts that provide web hosting (among other facilities) which may be appropriate for hosting a small simple site. For more information see the OUCS page on non-personal project accounts.
  • web hosting with NSMS at OUCS. If your site requires more advanced options from your hosting, then hosting with NSMS may be appropriate. NSMS provide more technically complex hosting provision on a chargeable basis.

Hosting your website with an external hosting company may also be an option in some cases, however you need to bear in mind that websites within the Oxford domain (i.e. sites that have ‘.ox.ac.uk’ as part of its url), must be hosted on a University server.

3. Arranging a web address

If you are producing a University website, you will typically want to have a University of Oxford (.ox.ac.uk) address for your site. There are various options here, details of which are described on our accounts and web sites for sub-departments and major research groups page.

If you require a non-Oxford domain name for your site, OUCS also provides a domain registration service.

4. Building Your Website

There are various different ways in which University websites get built. Some departments and Colleges have their own web developers who may be able to develop a website for you. In some cases, there may be a Content Management System in place that can be used to develop your site. It is always worth checking what resources and support are available to you. Your IT support officer will be able to provide guidance on this.

If no in-house support is available to you, there are two options available to you: build the site yourself or pay someone else to develop the site; WDC can help you with either option.

If you decide to develop the site yourself, we recommend you make use of the HTML/CSS templates we provide. We’re also happy to meet up advice you on design and technical issues. OUCS also offers courses on web development as well as courses on DreamWeaver.

If you’re looking for someone to build your site for you we can also help. In many cases we can take on the development of a site. If we’re not able to take on the development ourselves, we can assist you in finding external developers to meet your needs. In either case we can assist you with identifying your technical requirements and writing a specification.

5. Existing Facilities


There are many existing facilities in the University which your website may make use of. A few of these facilities are outlined here. This list is far from exhaustive; if you are aware of a resource that you think should be mentioned here, please contact us.

5.2. Content Management Systems

Many sites make use of a Content Management System (CMS) to maintain their websites. There are many advantages to using a CMS, such as tools to manage the structure and navigation of a site, Web-based editing of content, devolved maintenance of site content by multiple authors, etc. The drawback of a CMS is that there is greater effort involved in terms of hosting, implementation and maintenance.

For some areas of the University, a CMS may already be in place that they may be able to make use of.

The Medical Sciences Division (MSD) runs a divisional content management system (using Plone). The Divisional web team offers sites within this for departments and units within the MSD. If you're based within MSD and would like to make use of this facility, please contact: anne.bowtell@medsci.ox.ac.uk.

University Administration and Services are in the process of rolling out the Terminal4 CMS that will be available to host web pages for units within the UAS division.

Other areas of the University may also have arrangements in place so it’s worth asking your IT officer.

5.3. Online Payments

The University has an online store facility; the system is administered by the finance division, more information is available on their website:

Finance division, online store facility

5.4. E-Learning Resources

If you are looking to use the Web as part of your teaching, the Learning Technologies Group (LTG) can help. The LTG supports all divisions within the University of Oxford in the development and innovative use of IT in teaching and research.

OUCS also hosts WebLearn, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). WebLearn provides a number of tools to support your teaching.

6. Rules and Guidelines


The University has a set of general rules governing the use of computer systems, some of which are relevant to websites, in particular the rules for Oxford University Websites. There also rules governing Oxford University domain names, which may affect your choice of hosting.

6.2. Branding

If your website is going to make use of the University of Oxford’s visual identity, it is important that you make use of the University of Oxford branding toolkit and follow the appropriate guidelines, in particular the section Brand marks on the Web.

6.3. Accessibility

The University is committed to making all of its websites as accessible as possible.

We recommend that you take a look at our Introduction to Web Accessibility, if you require more information or have a particular accessibility concern with your website, we’d be happy to meet up and discuss it. IT Services also runs a course on web accessibility.