In a hierarchical tree, when the user perform a search, when the parent matches the keyword, they had mentioned they incline to be able to access the children, but have them collapsed like below. enter image description here

In the case when the parent and one of its descendant match the keyword, would you expect A or B?

  • [A] Show me all descendants under the highest level matched node ('Admin Group' in this example). Collapse the nodes that don't match the keyword inside that node ('Account Assistant' in this example). This will assume that the user might be searching for the top level node.
  • [B] Remove all the unmatched notes but just maintain the hierarchy. This will treat search as a quick way to get to what they are looking for and not return everything under the nodes.

enter image description here

  • These look more like filters instead of search results. Also Concept B is incomplete, assuming there are multiple parent nodes (like Admin Group). What would happen if you click 'Admin Group' in B? Will it bring back the original list of children for Admin Group? If not how are you getting it back.
    – Ren
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


I would definitely expect B.

A has major drawbacks:

  • it potentially shows many irrelevant nodes, if a parent has many children
  • relevant results can be pushed far below, if for instance HR Office has many children
  • even if matches are highlighted, you have to visually search for them because of all the noise, and maybe even have to scroll

B is much better in that sense, however it can be confusing as other nodes have disappeared and you have no way to restore them other than clearing the filter.

To solve this I suggest either:

  • to show the triangle pointing to the right even if a child result is shown, toggling it would show all children. Toggling it again shows the filtered result only.

    > Payroll
        Payroll Administrator


    v Payroll
        Payroll Administrator
        Payroll Associate
        Payroll Clerk
  • to have a more... link that shows all the children. This is not reversible but I find it clearer.

    v Payroll
        Payroll Administrator

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