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First, a bit of background:

I am using autocomplete to provide suggestions (in my case a list of users) to provide tokenized input to a text field:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

This is what is shown if there are no results:

mockup

download bmml source

On Facebook, the There are 0 results is a link to a full search page: enter image description here

However, in my case, there is no point in having a search page. If a user is not in the autocomplete, then he does not exist.

Currently I have implemented the following behaviour:

  • Clicking outside of the suggestions box and text input closes the suggestions box.

  • If the text input is not empty, focusing on it should bring up the suggestion box even when there are 0 results.

  • Unfocusing the text input closes the suggestion box.

What should happen to the There are 0 results area when clicked? Should I also hide the suggestion box? Or should I just leave it there until the user does one of the above behaviours to close it? What sort of cursor should I use when the user hovers over that area?

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Good Question. I would suggest to have the box which displays as you have with 0 result but make a second part of that and show suggested names. Like the One which comes in 1st screen shot will come in the second part and the title can be... DID YOU MEAN. You can make an intelligent system which display closest match in this section. –  ajayashish Jul 16 '12 at 9:39
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

First of all, user should know what is the state of a system. She used the feature, entered the data and now she expects to know the results. In such context, there is a value in showing the '0 results' information.

Next thing is to know what would user like to do when she gets no search results? Did she misspelled the name? Can she take another route of approach? Can you suggest any form of recovery?

You can also consider: are there any scenarios that user would like to follow next? If there are no results and if it's a proper state, then maybe she would like to do something next? Adding a user, inviting, emailing, searching elsewhere?

Depending on your system design, you may find some solutions above as easy to show in your search results dropdown and some to introduce as a results of clicking the '0 results' area.

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Very good ideas. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, these will have to be in the next version of the app. In light of this, what do you suggest when the 0 results area is clicked? –  F21 Jul 17 '12 at 1:19
    
In that case, offer the best you can. I am not aware of what your site already has, but for sure you can offer another search. Clear the search box and make it ready for typing. –  Bartosz Rakowski Jul 17 '12 at 6:03
    
Ah, that is the behaviour I've got at the moment. Clicking 0 results clears the text box and dismisses the 0 results (autocomplete list). What sort of cursor do you suggest when mousing over the area? –  F21 Jul 17 '12 at 6:28
    
You don't have too much choice :) There is apparently no reason to use atypical cursor and user expects to see 'standard' (arrow) or 'link' (pointing finger) cursor. If it doesn't change the view, if it doesn't point to any other page (yet) then I would suggest a 'standard' one. –  Bartosz Rakowski Jul 17 '12 at 6:55
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Firstly, why we show the dropdown (no data info) if there is no result? If dropdown is mandatory, we do not hide when click on that.

We can hide wherever click on the screen.

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In the Google world it stops displaying anything in the dropdown and displays some best guesses below. So it displays a dropdown up until thereshouldbeno:

enter image description here

But then gives up after that and displays a best guess below:

enter image description here

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+1 for bringing that on. Feels handy. –  Bartosz Rakowski Jul 17 '12 at 6:58
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