Until recently I found the arrow next to each of the suggested keywords are tappable and will prepopulate the string to the search box for users to further refine the keyword before performing the search. Initially, I thought it is only a visual cue means "go to the search result of this suggested keyword", although the arrow pointing left somehow confuses me because usually, the arrow would point right if so.

This pattern is found in Google search and google map search on mobile. Wanna know how the community thinks about this.

  • Is it a conventional UI pattern?
  • Does the iconography communicate the purpose well?
  • What alternatives do you have to improve the clarity of this feature?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Your title presupposes an ambiguity ("How to clarify ambiguity...") but you don't say what you think it is ambiguous with (i.e. what other function it could mean). Even if you're not sure exactly what the arrows mean, given that tapping on an entry itself (much like selecting from a normal drop-down list) will select the term, I see the arrows as just an additional hint (top-left pointing implying the selected term will go "up there" into the search box).
    – TripeHound
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 10:18
  • @TripeHound Yep you are right, added in my thoughts about why I feel it's confusing.
    – punkaoru
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 10:27
  • Ahh... Hadn't appreciated the difference between clicking on the element (=do the search) and clicking on the arrow (fill the search box but allow editing). If nothing else, I've learnt something new! In my case, I just think I hadn't paid any attention to the fact that the arrows were there, rather than being confused over what they mean... now I realise they're there (and know what they mean), it's difficult to say for certain if they would have confused me, but I would say they seem "reasonable"...
    – TripeHound
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


As already pointed out, there are two problems with this feature –

  • low visibility
  • non-standard glyph which does not convey that the added text will be editable. It does convey that the selected item will be added to the search field.

Low-visibility should be easy to correct with something like this in the image below. However, the designers at Google probably wanted to keep it subtle. Also, as observed in Google Maps (not this image), the search results may also contain a couple of lines of description. Using only the icon without any border or background color seems to be good idea to have a clean interface and less congestion.

Regarding the issue with non-standard glyph, it can only be tested with a different icon which will perhaps convey both the functions.

enter image description here

  • I don't think the problem in how to show the arrow or try to make it pop up, it's about the concept of showing the search. Yes, it's good to show about a line or two as a description so you can know exactly what the listed items are all about. Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 9:39
  • 1
    @KhalilHanna I think you misunderstood. In Google Maps, the search suggestions have two lines of description along with the title. So it will get congested with bordered icon or with background-colour. What I mean is, even though the icon can be made prominent visually there are other use cases to consider.
    – Ren
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 10:34
  • The description below the topic could be an option, but not necessary for maps since you worry about navigating, so you already know where you want to go. Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 14:36

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