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I have an autocomplete for a restaurant finder I'm currently putting live:

enter image description here

After typing 3 characters, there's a backend AJAX call to the server that returns a list of either locations or restaurants matching your search. As part of the search form, I also have the More Options button, which causes a div to slide down below the form, where you can choose cuisine etc. I don't really allow free text search: as you type, the first element in the list will always be selected. However, you always need to hit the green search button to perform the search.

My question is, should I simply perform the search as soon as you physically select something from the dropdown? It doesn't give the user much chance to fill out the 'More options' if they want to, although I do display the full form on a search results page for a location, but not on a restaurant detail page. So, they could search for a location, then click More options for further refinement.

If I were to perform the search automatically then the green search button is fairly useless, unless you're on a search results page, you want to stay in the same location but have added more filtering: in that instance I'd need the button. Is that acceptable?

TlDR: should I click-and-go on selection from the dropdown?

Any thoughts suggestions would be much appreciated.

  • If the user selects a restaurant there is no longer need for any of the More Options, right? This refinement is only used when looking for several restaurants in a certain (typed) location that meet a criteria? – Alvaro May 19 '17 at 18:13
  • Yes, correct. Originally it was only a location search but added the restaurants (and the Restaurant/Location icon) later, as it made sense. However, if I remove the More Options button and enable click-and-go, then I'd have 1 irrelevant Search button, or no button at all(!), which to me would be even weirder... – eclipse31 May 19 '17 at 19:03
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Try click-and-go first.

Simplicity is usually the best option and this approach lends itself to convenient usage for people that use the keyboard bindings (type + arrow keys + enter/return) if you wish to support them. If an initial search doesn't yield useful results or a user needs refinement they can always return to your 'More options' button after they review the basic result set.

If you have the time and flexibility, maybe you can create an A/B test of some sort to observe behavior or some website usage metrics of two versions of the tool. If A is the click-and-go, the downside to the B click-and-stay+more-options will probably be a more complex and time-consuming implementation.

My instinct says that involving the 'More options' button and not immediately returning results would complicate both usage and implementation while preventing typical users from getting what they want ASAP.

  • Thanks for the feedback. I agree, most/typical users probably won't want the More Options, so I may as well give them something to view ASAP. I was just worried about making the More Options button slightly redundant, certainly on the homepage version of the search. Based on this, I'll give it a try! – eclipse31 May 19 '17 at 18:22
  • Cool. Would you mind accepting this answer? I'm new to ux.stackexchange and could use the reputation points to get out of noob status. Cheers! – jmmygoggle May 19 '17 at 23:38
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    I up'd you to give you basic rep privilege, but in general dont ask for votes it usually has the reverse outcome.. – Jeremy Thompson May 20 '17 at 1:40
  • This was a rare break in etiquette for me because I was anxious to upvote a very helpful answer that brought me to this community (before I got distracted, forgot to return and/or misplaced the link). I'm not interested in rep - just the ability to do the basics. Thanks for the reminder and help! – jmmygoggle May 23 '17 at 10:49
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You might need some feedback from your users before committing to one definitive solution, however I think that an expected behaviour of your autocomplete is to list the results as soon as you select an option.

It does feel unatural to have the "more option" button placed after the submit button.

You may assume that the "more options" will be use only if the initial search is not enough. This allows you to get rid of the "Search" button and to make the options automatically appear once a search is run and to consider a "Apply filters" button instead.

I would also strongly recommend to set a lower minimum number of characters and limiting the amount of results.

  • Thanks for this. I tried upvoting but I don't have enough points, lol. I really want to accept both answers, but I guess I'll have to accept the first one, apologies. You both say to implement click-and-go and explain why very well. Incidentally, the autocomplete does start after 3 characters and returns at most 6 results. – eclipse31 May 21 '17 at 15:05

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