Manage Websites

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This topic is for CMS administrators, and developers with administration access rights.

You can add and remove websites from a Optimizely Content Management System (CMS) installation, perhaps to create short-lived campaign websites.

Go to Settings > Manage Websites. You can see an overview of existing websites in your installation. These websites share the same database, content types and templates, making it easy to set up new websites. You can also define whether content, such as blocks, folders, and media , should be shared or site-specific.


You can add new websites in the following ways:

  • Single-site setup lets your installation have one CMS site mapped to one IIS instance. The IIS mapping is with a wildcard or a specific host name. You can have several single sites with separate databases and code base on the same server. In that case, you have a separate admin interface for each site.
  • Multi-site setup lets you have a single CMS site as a base (default site), and can create new sites in admin view that share the same root page, database and code base. The additional sites are automatically mapped and require no additional configuration (if the base site is mapped to wildcard), or they need manual configuration of host name.

    When you work in a multi-site setup, you see all sites in the same interface, which makes it easy to work with them. One reason to run a multi-site setup with specific host name mapping (that is, a different IIS instance per CMS site) is that you can use different application pools, which means that if one site fails, the other sites continue to run.


The following requirements must be met to manage websites in admin view:

  • Available licenses – A notification message informs you of the number of sites allowed by the license available for the installation. See License Information on the Admin tab for information.
  • Unique URL – In admin view, each website must have a unique URL and start page in the content tree. Start pages cannot be nested.
  • Domain mapping must be configured in IIS – 
    • For multi-site setup, the IIS must be configured to respond to any host name.
    • For single-site setup, each separate CMS site must have an IIS site configured.

Create and update a website from Settings view

On the Manage Websites tab, you can click a site to see detailed information about its settings. You can also update the site information.

To add more sites to your installation, click Create Website.


Add the following information when creating and updating site settings for your installation:

Site setting Description
Name Type a name that identifies the website, such as Example Site.
URL Enter the URL for the site, such as
If your CMS or Optimizely Customized Commerce site is using Unicode characters in the URL segments, internationalized domain names should be registered in Punycode format. See also: Internationalized Resource Identifiers (IRIs) on Optimizely World.
Start page Select the page to which the visitor is sent if only a host name is specified.
Use site-specific assets Select this check box to ensure that assets, such as blocks and media, for this site are not available for use on other sites in the installation. This option affects the folder structure editors see in the assets pane.
Host name Optional. Enter a specific URL, such as If you do not name the website, it is automatically named with the URL you have entered.
One of the sites in the installation must be bound to the * host name. That site is used as a fallback when an exact match for the host name used by the visitor cannot be found. This setting is less important in a single-site scenario, because you can have only one site configuration. However, in a multi-site scenario, you must make sure that host bindings active in IIS are mirrored in the corresponding site configuration. For example, you want to add
Usage: The host name list is evaluated by the application in two different scenarios:
  • Request routing. When serving a request, the application evaluates the host list to see which site and language (culture) that should be served.
  • Cross-site linking. When generating links to another site or culture, the host list is evaluated to find the host name to use for constructing the link URL.
A wildcard * mapping must be accompanied by an explicit host name to support cross-site link generation.
Culture Select the default language for when a visitor accesses the website using the host name.
  • Primary host – A primary host is the preferred host name when generating links between sites or languages (cultures). If no host is defined as primary, the first non-redirected host and non-edit host is used. You can define only one primary host per language plus one primary that is unbound to any language.
  • Edit host – An editing host is the preferred host name to use when editing a site. This host name is used for all links between sites when the users are in the editing view. If no editing host is defined, the primary or first found host is used. You can define only one editing host per site and you cannot bind it to any language. Users are not forced to the edit host for editing and remain on their current host if the editing view is requested from another host on the site.
  • Redirection host – A redirection host defines that requests using this host name are redirected to a different host name. Such requests are redirected to the primary host or, if none is defined, the first non-redirected host found. You can set redirection to permanent or temporary, which determines the type of HTTP redirect status that should be used. Redirected host names are never used when generating links. There can be any number of redirection hosts defined as long as there is at least one primary or standard host name bound to the same language.
Scheme Select the preferred scheme to be used for this host. This affects only the generation of links to the site as incoming requests are matched to the host name regardless of scheme.

Example: Default website with different host names, languages and redirection types

The following example shows a default website with several host names, languages and redirection types configured:


This example would lead to the following behavior:

  • A request to is redirected to using an HTTP 301 response.
  • A request to is served the Swedish content.
    Canonical links added in the templates should point to
  • A request to is redirected to using an HTTP 301 response as this is the only Norwegian host that is not redirected.
  • A request to is redirected to using an HTTP 302 response as per the wildcard specification.

Example: Campaign website

The following example shows a campaign website: