I have a page that opens to a search bar with a search button beside it. On hitting the search button, a listing will appear below that section. There's a button at the bottom to submit after selecting from the listing.

With my definition of primary & secondary buttons, the search button is a primary button on the page when it loads. But after the user searches, the submit button would be the primary button. At this point I do not want the search button to be primary as it deviates focus. How should the buttons be assigned in such a scenario?

Also if there's any question/blog/article that explains button uses in such scenarios please direct me to those.

2 Answers 2


After search button is clicked another interaction starts. You could use some tricks to distinguish it, see sketch. To achieve it some Gestalt principles are used as well as up-to-down reading pattern. enter image description here


Often times people use gray for secondary buttons, and assign a positive color like green for the current primary action button. Many companies use the primary brand color for the actionable primary buttons.

You have to guide people and have the design mold to the experience. If you select something and the focus shifts to something else. The last primary state of focus needs to bump back so the new primary action can take place.

  • I wouldn't want to overlap the search button because that function should still be usable, if the user isn't satisfied with the results he will have to search again. we thought about having the user cancel out of the listing to go back to the search but that didn't go through . will be too much out of the normal to have two primary buttons in the same view? Yet we still want to be able to move the focus from the one on top(search) .
    – user33871
    Jul 25, 2013 at 21:02
  • I somehow missed the visual in my comment from before. So, when a person clicks 'search' a modal will come up with the search field? If this is the case the buttons are not an issue, however like you are mentioning they will want to have a way out of the search if it's not what they wanted. A 'cancel' or 'close' button seem appropriate in this case.
    – Ryan
    Jul 26, 2013 at 1:09

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