Domain Name Service (DNS) is a system that allows computers to use human-readable addresses, like "www.finalsite.com", and translate those into the IP addresses (i.e. 192.168.1.1) that a network needs to actually navigate to that site. If you're unfamiliar at all with DNS, check out this Youtube video for a primer: DNS as Fast as Possible
1. Purchase Your Domain Name
In order to use a domain name for your site (i.e. yourschool.org), you'll need to purchase it from a registrar. While Finalsite hosts the contents and software for your site, we believe that your domain name is the property of your school, which is why we do not purchase it for you.
Common registrars include:
Once you have purchased a domain name, you can set it up to point to your Finalsite site.
2. Configure your Domain Settings
There are two records that need to be created in your DNS settings to point it to your site:
- an A record, which points your base domain to our Finalsite servers.
- and a CNAME record, which connects your domain to your specific site.
To point your name to Finalsite, you'll need to create an A record for your base domain, without the www or anything else preceding it. For example, if you wanted to use the address "http://www.yourschool.org", the A record would be created for "yourschool.org". This A record will point to an IP address that Finalsite will provide for you. If you don't know what this address is, please contact Finalsite Support and we'd be happy to look it up for you.
Here is a step-by-step instruction set for updating A records in Network Solutions. If you are using a different registrar, see their help center for instructions on performing this action.
While the A record connects your domain name with our servers, the CNAME record (also known as a Host Alias) is what connects the name to your specific site.
You will need to set up a CNAME record that connects the "www" subdomain to "[your school's keyword].finalsite.com". This will end up something like this:
CNAME | www.yourschool.org | yourschool.finalsite.com
If you are unsure what your site's keyword is, please contact Finalsite Support.
Here is a step-by-step instruction set for updating CNAME records in Network Solutions. If you are using a different registrar, see their help center for instructions on performing this action.
Note: DNS settings take time to propagate throughout the Internet. It can take anywhere from 1-48 hours for DNS settings to take effect, though it is usually around 2 for many cases. Just know that when you change your DNS settings, it will not take effect immediately.
A subdomain allows you to break down your domain with additional prefixes, replacing the "www." portion of your domain. For example, "admissions.yourschool.org" is a subdomain of "yourschool.org". These subdomains can be directed to specific pages on your site, so it is possible to have admissions.yourschool.org go directly to your Admissions page.
To set up a subdomain, you'll need to set up a CNAME record for the prefix, and point it to [keyword].finalsite.com, like your base domain. It should look like this:
CNAME | admissions.yourschool.org | yourschool.finalsite.com
Once the CNAME is created, create a ticket with Finalsite Support. Let us know what the subdomain is, and what page you'd like it to land on. We'll take care of the steps on our end to get that set up for you. (This involves creating a new Domain in Composer, which only Finalsite admins can do.)