University Web Developers

University Web Developers

I was just curious what other people's experience has been with using subdomains for different departments/schools instead of regular subfolders (which is what we currently use). For example:

www.yourschool.edu/department

vs.

department.yourschool.edu

From a usability perspective, is one or the other more natural to your site visitors?

From a technical perspective, has using a subdomain caused any problems with linking, cross-domain scripting, etc.?

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I have used both approaches in both university and private sector positions since the beginning of the web. I tend to agree with folks who are saying to use the domain name dept.school.edu for larger sites or ones that are going to be entry points. For smaller sites, the directory style is just fine and it's easier to do. At least you didn't say www.school.edu/~dept, which should be passe now (though it's not).

There are some technical advantages for the domain name, beyond it fits better on your business card. These are mentioned in other posts... Search hits and portability of the site are two of them.

I would be sure to get both dept.school.edu and www.dept.school.edu setup, if you go with domain names. Not hard to do for your DNS folks, though you may have to either ask for it or make sure it gets setup as a standard thing.
I recomend that our EDU customers do not use sub-domains for one reason - They kill search engine rankings. Google changed the rules a couple of years ago so that a sub-domain is treated as an entirely seperate domain and does not carry the rankings of the main domain. If you check your page ranking on your root domain compared to the subs you will likely see a big difference. The reason Google changed the rankings for subdomains was to account for social networks like Ning and blogs like wordpress. MySite.Wordpress.com should not carry the authority of Wordpress.com because they are totally different sites, so Google started treating each sub as a unique domain.

Also when you are managing a lot of subdomain you have more overhead in the DNS management.

Great question.

Recent changes at Google have changed the way they look at sub-domains vs. sub-directories:
http://www.webpronews.com/matt-cutts-talks-subdomains-vs-subdirecto... 

It seems that Google no longer treats sub-domains as entirely different websites - they now have roughly the same effect on your search rankings as a sub-directory.

And now that its 2013 how do folks feel?

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