I'm working with displaying search results on a mobile device - The search results are ever changing. On an hourly basis new results are added and unavailable results are removed. For more context, it's the rental property industry.

I'm looking at ways to update these search results between 'micro' sessions on a mobile device.

Use Case: - The user performs a search and scrolls down the list of results - the user then leaves the app for x amount of time - The user then returns to the app.

In the above use case, the time between 1st and 2nd sessions, the search results have changed.

What is the best way to make the user aware of updates to their search results?

1 Answer 1


Don't change the results as users may not be expecting changes like that (they might be conciously working from results top-to-bottom, so will lose their place if the results jumble up all the time.

Why not just alert them that the results have changed, similar to how Facebook and many other fast-moving news sites operate?

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Then they can choose to refresh the page if they wish, or can carry on with the list as they originally created it.

Give the user some choice, rather than forcing things on them they may not be expecting.

For results that become no longer available, keep them in the list but disable them so the user knows they are no longer available. Otherwise users may wonder why result X is no longer showing.

  • It's a good idea to stay at the same place in the list and show an indicator that results have changed. But the UI for this should be different from Facebook and news sites. Facebook tells you to scroll to the top to see the latest posts, because posts are always sorted by date and new ones are always put at the top. In the case of a rental property list sorted by price, new results could go anywhere, so the wording of the indicator should be different. Also, the trigger to refresh the results might be something other than scrolling to the top. Dec 4, 2017 at 22:40
  • Keeping removed properties in the list in a disabled state is definitely the best solution to that specific problem. Staying in the same place in the list is a must-have. As you've pointed out Rory, the results could be sorted in many ways... So shooting user to the top might completely change their sort order & disorient them. Many apps (Medium, YouTube, AutoTrader) default you to a homepage/search page 1hr after your session, but remember your search. Either defaulting back to search/homepage, or pushing users on to a list of only 'NEW' stuff are the options I'm exploring.
    – Simon
    Dec 5, 2017 at 17:53

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