This is a problem I see routinely "solved" in different ways but have yet to see it solved well anywhere, so I'm appealing to the community for a best practice (or what others have found works).

When trying to register a domain, there are a growing number of potential top-level domains (TLDs). What is the best way to represent this to the user? Potential solutions I've seen, with some possible pitfalls:

  • input field
    • user has to already know the TLD they want (and type it correctly)
  • An infinitely long select menu
    • too many items options in the list
  • autocomplete-ish select menu
    • same as above, and only useful if the user knows which tld they're looking for (not friendly for discoverability)
  • trying to bucket the TLDs into "line of business" categories, and then implementing one of the above
    • makes the user jump through an additional hoop which may or may not match the categorizer's mental model for to structure the TLDs

Google does a combination of the above, which may be the best I've seen so far: google

And AWS's Route 53 is similar: aws

The Question

If there are hundreds of possible TLDs, what is the best way to let the user choose one when they may not know exactly which one they want?

1 Answer 1


The best? Only testing will tell.

Going to both your examples, the second one is way better from an user point of view. See both dropdowns: one has a list of TLD and nothing else. The other, a list of TLD PLUS the price. And in the domain business, this is a huge difference since the newer TLD use to be way more expensive than the classic original TLD. While for some users price won't be the main aspect to consider, for most users price is the primary reason to choose a domain. Specially when "classic TLD" are supposed to rank better than any of the new TLD.

The above being said, not all registrars offer ALL available TLDs. But if you have a lot of TLDs to offer, I'd recommend an agnostic search (domain name only, no extension) and then present a hierarchy of available domains:

  • 1st level: .com, .net, .org, .edu
  • 2nd level: any on sale or promotional offer
  • 3rd level: a panel with all remaining available TLDs with checkboxes

Of course, you can enhance this with filters for more accurate results, but the important part is: offer the user what s/he will probably want, then offer what YOU want, then show all the remaining possibilities. And please, ALWAYS clearly show the price for each domain

  • I like this. The only thing I (as a user from Germany) would add, is to adapt your 1st level menu to the user's location. E.g. for me, a .de domain would be at least as interesting (and an .eu domain only slightly less so), if not more, than .com, .net or .org, and, since I am not a university or school, .edu is completely un-interesting to me. Commented May 10, 2016 at 21:55
  • 1
    That's correct @JörgWMittag, that's why I mentioned filters. Besides, most local TLDs are managed from local registrars rather than generic global registrars. But assuming you can sell .eu or .de, then it makes all the sense to do what you say :)
    – Devin
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 22:12

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