I'm working as UX Director for a client, and we need a little consultation/advice on the advantages/disadvantages of Multiple top-level country domains (www.website.co.uk and www.website.nl). vs Sub-domains (www.website.com/uk and www.website.com/nl).

I had suggested the approach of sub-domains for many reasons, but mainly to begin a standard across the brand as they don't have one.

The teams I have worked with in the past have leaned towards sub-directories for similar projects. Reason being: - Ease of localisation by country/language - DNS targeting for faster loading times - Cheaper - Shared Cookies across all locales, enabling single sign-on for more seamless user experience. - Better weighted SEO.

But these are technical reasons. Are there any valid UX reasons?

  • 1
    Edited reference to sub-domains. Sub-domains would be things like nl.website.com and uk.website.com. You mean sub-directories.
    – dennislees
    Mar 14, 2018 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Two of the main UX reasons actually go against the use of subdirectories

I once fought a long battle with regional site managers on this topic. I've asked a related question on this site > How does a CCTLD affect user behavior?

National pride /comfort with the familiar

The idea is that, particularly for certain countries (France was a big issue) shoppers prefer to see a local CCTLD over a .com, and that this can have an affect on search page click through and conversion.

This advice is now 7 years old, but here's Google's Matt Cutts explaining why to use CCTLDs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyWx31GeQWY

The complexities language and redirection

The idea here is that it's tricky to always get the right content in front of the right user. Decisions have to be made about how and when to redirect users and to what content, and in this process there is room for error and disgruntlement. There may be more clicking and thinking involved with moving around between separate linked CCTLDs, but the user is more in control of their own fate.

The Positive UX of subdirectory approach

Properly executed, users have a seamless internationalized experience without ever having to think about it, but beyond that, the experience is affected little by what's happening in the address bar. End users care about performance (speed) first, and content quality second.

In my case, I never needed to rationalize the postive experience side of things because the technical benefits were so obvious and strong, and no one could ever provide anything more than anecdotal evidence against doing it.

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