In this article, Tony Russell-Rose explains autocomplete and autosuggest, and the differences between them. Any thoughts on how to apply both to the one search box and the one time? Any examples or research on this issue?

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    Hi Steven and welcome to UX.se. Please make your question more specific, as right now it is more like a discussion point than a question that fits within the site guidelines.
    – JohnGB
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 6:59
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    Agreed. Perhaps you could do a quick mock up of how you see it might working as a starting point, even if it's wrong.
    – Kayo
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 7:50
  • A fascinating observation 10 years later: Google has removed auto-complete from their search text field. Only auto-suggestions and recent searches remain.
    – Merchako
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 21:37

3 Answers 3


There is a different between Auto-Complete and Auto-Suggest.

Auto-Complete happens within the input box where you type and you can press either enter or "right-arrow-key" to accept it. Auto-Suggest list appears as a multiple suggestion list in the form of drop-down. To make use of auto-suggest items, you have to click "down-arrow-key" or mouse click to accept them.

If you want to implement them together, do something like that.

enter image description here

  • The purpose of auto-complete is to resolve a partial query, i.e., to search within a controlled vocabulary for items matching a given character string. The purpose of auto-suggest is to search a virtually unbounded list for related keywords and phrases, which may or may not match the precise query string. It is not the way it displayed. Taken from uxmag.com/articles/designing-search-as-you-type-suggestions
    – AsafBO
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 5:30

I think Google provides a good example of how it differentiates between the two. It provides two different types of text style when you type into the search input field. The darker text incorporate the characters that the user enters, and the light grey text are suggestions. You get both the text styling in the input box and also the dropdown, so I think that satisfies the criteria.


My preference would be to categorise them into sections/tabs/areas (don't forget a view all results link) because despite the example what @Salman gave you was good there's nothing to suggest that the user is unaware of the difference between the two search functions. That being said, does the user need to know this? If you want a good example of what @Salman was talking about this is brilliant: burton.com

Also a nice quote to prove what you're doing is right... According to Matthew Curry, E-commerce manager at Lovehoney:

“In my experience, autosuggest provides a real boost to search conversion rates. In a usability test I ran, we found that users actually relied upon site search autosuggest and autocorrect to know the correct spelling of words for them. Make sure that your site search solution is up to scratch, and that you still provide search results for common misspellings, just in case. “

Finally, here are a few different examples here that you might appreciate.

  • That Burton site is an interesting example, but it doesn't really seem to do any auto-suggestions - what it looks like it does is show the autocomplete option and at the same time show the search results for that autocomplete option. There doesn't seem to be any suggestion route for different search entries. Still, it's a nice approach all the same.
    – JonW
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 9:17
  • Hi Jon - type in "wo" (Workload jacket appears). Here's another similar example but I wouldn't recommend doing this. designspiration.net/tag/hello - now just start typing! Woah! Where did that come from?! That's probably a more @Salman-esque example Commented May 28, 2013 at 9:40
  • Yes, 'Wo' does start showing the autocomplete for 'Workload jacket' but there is no auto-suggestion happening; all you're seeing is results for Workload Jacket. For auto-suggest I'd expect it to suggest several different options 'WOrkload Jacket, WOmens shoes, WOven jumpers etc'. Also, your last example in that comment is the same approach as the new MySpace takes - search anywhere from any page to trigger the search.
    – JonW
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 9:44

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