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Where to start

Custom domains are the most visible aspect of the internet, yet how domains work is a bit complicated. In this HOWTO, you'll find instructions for attaching a domain to your nation.

Connecting a custom domain can be difficult. Follow our step by step guide here, and be sure to contact our support team if you have any questions!

Preparation:

  1. Buy a custom domain from a domain provider, like GoDaddy or 1&1. Once you connect your domain, you must keep the registration active with the provider to keep it connected to your website.
  2. Your domain provider must be able to support full DNS access and/or support 6 nameservers. If your provider does not, you will need to transfer it to a provider who can.
  3. Most domains connect within 24 hours, but it can take up to 72 hours. Keep this in mind if you have a close deadline.

Limitations:

  1. You cannot connect a 3rd party domain to a specific page on your site. All redirects will resolve to the primary domain.
  2. SSL certificates can only be issued to the subdomain, not the root domain. Some domain providers can provide SSL for the root domain, which you can redirect to the subdomain.

Add your domain to your nation

It is very important to do the steps in this document in this order. By adding your domain to your nation first, you create a place for the domain to land once you point your name server records to NationBuilder. Go to Settings > Domains. Click on + New domain

1. Enter the domain name in the text box. Do not include 'www.' For example, our domain would be entered as nationbuilder.com.

From here, if you answer Yes to any of the following questions, proceed to step 2. Otherwise, click here to connect your domain another way.

  • I want to manage my own DNS
  • I have custom DNS settings and don’t want interruptions
  • My DNS provider can’t support 6 nameservers
  • I have other services using my domain

2. Leave the “NationBuilder should manage this domain” box checked.

If you have subnations, you'll be given the option to allow them to use the domain. Checking the box allows them to access the domain. Keeping the box unchecked means only the parent nation can connect to the domain.

3. Select a site to connect to the domain. The site selected here will live at www.yourdomain.com.

4. Click the Add domain button.

Domain settings: name servers and email

When you add a domain, you'll be taken to domain settings. 

1. Confirm your Email Provider in the dropdown menu. If you are already using email with your domain, it is extremely important to make sure the correct email provider is selected on this page. 

If your email provider is not listed in the menu, select Custom Email and email help@nationbuilder.com for additional support. You will need to email any email related records (typically just MX records) to NB support. Do not continue these instructions until you have received confirmation from us that you can proceed. 

2. This screen will open with the records you need to enter in your provider account so your domain connects to NationBuilder. Keep this panel open for your reference.

In a new browser tab or window, log into your domain provider account, and find where you manage your DNS settings. Depending on your provider, this may be called Zone File Settings, Manage Domains, Domain Manager, DNS Manager, or something similar.

Add all six name servers listed in the "Required value" column to your domain registrar's control panel.

Learn how to configure your name servers if your domain is registered with 1&1, GoDaddy, NameCheap, or Rackspace. If you don't see text boxes for inserting six, there is usually an option to add additional name servers.

3. Click Save.

📌 Once your name servers resolve to NationBuilder, you need to re-save your primary site to complete the process.

Name server changes usually take effect within an hour. Remember that it can take up to 48 hours for your changes to propagate across the internet. It is not possible for NationBuilder to expedite this process and clicking the refresh button does not speed up the process.

Read on, as you will need to finalize your website settings.

Connecting a site and managing subdomains

After the domain name servers resolve to the required values, you can finalize attaching your site to the domain. 

📌 This step is required -- any site added before the name servers resolve to NationBuilder will not be completely attached until you re-save the site!

Click on Sites, and you will see the list of websites attached to the domain.

Click hover over the domain and click Edit next to your primary website. 

Click the Save button at the bottom of the screen.

Now your site is attached! Your website will be viewable on your custom domain.

If you need to add another subdomain or if you did not attach a site when connecting the domain, click the + New site link.

1. URL: To connect your primary domain to a site, enter "www" in the text field. Otherwise, enter the subdomain you wish to create.

2. Select the appropriate site from the dropdown field.

3. Click the Save button.

You will be taken back to the full lists of sites using that domain.

Note: each website can only be attached to one domain and a website must already exist in the Website section of your control panel before it can be attached to a domain. If you see this message:

That means that all websites in your nation are already attached to a domain. You will need to create a new site first. 

Congratulations! Your domains are all set. You should not need to make any other changes.

Reasons to contact NationBuilder Support:

  • If your site does not display your custom domain after 48 hours, first make sure you re-saved your site. That step is required to complete the connection process. 
  • If you would like to create a subdomain and attach it to a site not hosted by NationBuilder.

Email help@nationbuilder.com if you have additional questions about this process.

SSL

When connecting/removing a custom domain, it can take a couple of days to add the SSL certification. SSL certificates get attached in batches on Mondays and Thursdays starting at 3am PST. This is typically an all day process. 

You will be notified by email when the process of activating the SSL certification has been completed.

Please reach out to help@nationbuilder.com to make sure your domain was correctly configured and is in the pipeline for the SSL batches, or in the case that you need to remove and re-add a domain that has already had an SSL certificate activated for it.

Related HOWTOs

Understand how custom domains work
How to connect an email address to a broadcaster
Authenticate your email

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