I am trying to implement live search in my site. Currently when the user enters a search letter (for example) the search results that appear are those that contain the letter regardless if it is found in the beginning, end or middle of the search result.

For example...if l is entered as a search term Pistolou will appear in the search results despite the fact that this word starts from P and not from l.

I wanted to know if you think this is the correct strategy or maybe it is better the Pistolou appears only when the user enters the letter P as a search term....like youtube does it or other sites out there.

  • What is the list that your users are searching? Jan 19, 2021 at 18:20
  • @maxathousand can you be more specific please...what do you mean? Jan 19, 2021 at 18:28
  • Sorry I should have been more clear. What are the words they are searching? Are they using the live search to type filenames, locations, products, people, movies..? Depending on what the users are searching for, it could possibly have an influence on the users' expectation. Jan 19, 2021 at 18:32
  • You are more clear now....people and company names...these two. Jan 20, 2021 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


if the intention of the search is clear, i.e. to look for people and company names, it is the right strategy to produce the search results corresponding to the letters entered in the search bar. And you can consider choosing to arrange the results according to popularity of search like how Google does it (see below), or to arrange it by alphabetical order so that it makes it easier for users to find what they want.

Image showing Google search bar

In fact, I believe most information search online use this strategy. Your current search algorithm is more commonly seen in emails and MS Office applications where users sometimes may not know the correct spelling of the search term or they may not remember which part of the email or document where the search term can be found.

  • so to recap...when the user enters P(for example) as a search term...only names(including company name) that start from P must appear and NOT names that contain P somewhere in the middle or in the end...is this what you suggest? Jan 20, 2021 at 16:42
  • Yes, you got the suggestion there. Like to emphasise this works only because the user knows that they are searching for names and companies and they are expecting the results to appear that way.
    – Eric Chia
    Jan 20, 2021 at 23:14
  • I just want to ask the following...do you think that the two functionalities can be combined(from a UX perspective)-that someone knows what is he searching AND that he searches in general.....would it be confusing or not? I do not know if it is technically/programmatically possible-it probably is. But here I am asking about the UX side of things of course. Jan 22, 2021 at 8:50
  • Yes it can be combined in a sense that for a person who knows what he is searching, the functionality would be a subset for that of a person who does not. Because when a person does not know what he is searching for, the search algothrim has to take into account other trends and clues to make sense of the search.
    – Eric Chia
    Jan 22, 2021 at 13:54
  • I am not surprised from you answer...very thoughtful and well explained answer-thanks again. Jan 22, 2021 at 14:07

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