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Our search UI allows users to search across multiple categories: Day, Type, Area, etc. Each selected criteria is ANDed. We also allow a free-text search option, however we expect this to be a rarer use case compared to just selecting 1 or 2 categories (e.g. Dinner on Wednesday).

Initially in the mock-ups we had the free text searchbox as the last element before the search button, to highlight this fact - but it looked visually weird once built in the iOS style - probably because searchboxes usually appear at the top of most iOS table views.

Instead we moved it to the top, and added a placeholder that explicitly says "optional" but I really don't like having to state that - I love a self explanatory UX/UI.

How can optional free text search be represented in a UI like this without resorting to explicit labels/placeholders?

Search UI

Designer Disclaimer: The nav bar purple is gross I know, still need to fix it since the iOS 7.0.3 update changed the new iOS7 blurred translucency effect.

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I propose some improvements to the current UI:

  • Make the input field more affordable. Now it looks like a kind of header.
  • Replace placeholder with default option which is rather neutral and appropriate (wishable) for most users. So, everybody likes tasty food, no matter whether it's a seefood or pizza. Actually, it's a placeholder, too. So you need no to search for "Tasty natural dishes" if user leaved it.

enter image description here

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