So I'm trying to figure out the best practice for interactions between a table search and sort. Here is a common data table scenario we have in our app.

  1. We have a table of users.

table of users

  1. The user can search on name (results will be returned immediately so there is no manual search button activation). The search results are sorted by relevance by default.

table with search filter

  1. The user can then activate a column sort that will appropriately change the order of filtered set of results.

a sorted order of filtered results

  1. When the user initiates a new search, the column sort is reset and we are returned to the default relevance sort.

enter image description here

My question is would the user expect the column filter to reset on changing the search or would they expect it to still be active?

If its the latter, then the challenge that I see is that there would be no way for the user to get back to the default 'relevance' sort once a column sort has been activated (short of refreshing the page).

Seems like the easiest solution would be to reset the column sort after each search.

1 Answer 1


If users have selected to sort on a column, that's an additional indication of their search criteria and what they are deeming important at that moment.

The fact that it's selected and filtered is to ideally scope within a specific range of values.

Releasing the filter should not remove or change the sort.

As a user, I may be searching for a broader range of values than my current search criteria reveals. In that case, clearing the search box allows me to see my sorted column with all the values for a larger comparison. I can scan a broader range of data.

Don't assume that once they cancel their filtering that the sort column is not important to them.

EDIT: I've updated a possible direction based on comments below

Have a link when show when they sort on a column, with the ability to go back to the default (relevance) sort.

I probably don't have the clearest writing and maybe a better icon (like the 'x' you suggested), but allowing them a quick reset might work:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • This makes sense, but I definitely need a way for users to go back to the default "relevance" sort. Perhaps, I add an "X" next to the column sort if it's activated allowing the user to clear it?
    – eRocket
    Aug 25, 2017 at 16:33
  • I see. So you don't have a default column selected when they first load the page? Since there's not a 'relevance' column, perhaps you put a little link above the table that's dynamic. Let me know if this makes sense and I'll update my answer to give more clarity. Sounds like the relevance needs to be indicated during mid search.
    – Mike M
    Aug 25, 2017 at 18:25
  • @eRocket I've updated my answer. Let me know if this helps. It gives them the option to resort as they need.
    – Mike M
    Aug 25, 2017 at 19:14

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