We have a page where the users can select filters and then click search to see results.

In the time between the user changing the filters and clicking search, should I indicate the the result don't match the filters?

If so, how?

  • just display a message?

  • obscure stale results with overlay and display a message?

  • hide stale results and display a message?

  • something else?

  • 3
    Is there a reason the user has to click 'search', as opposed to filtering the view in real time as the user applies filters? Also, what's the behavior if the underlying data changes after the user views results? This could inform your behavior in this case. – Daniel Newman Aug 7 '13 at 16:27

Giving feedback is a definitely a good practice and keeping your audience engaged is even better. You can use many solutions from the bare bone message with an animated icon to a callout in a modal window.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • How many searches do you expect your users to make?
  • Consider the average loading time
  • Keep in mind traffic spikes

You probably won't need much if the results are displayed within a second but if it takes significantly more (booking plane tickets and the likes), then improve the UX by providing your users with some more substantial content: things to do or read.

Take a look at Response-times-3-important-limits on J.Nielsen's blog.

As an example, one of the best solution I've seen recently to capture users attention while waiting is at www.hipmunk.com but I'm sure there are many other great solutions in the booking industry.

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More in-depth stats at http://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time - 2011

EDIT: Searching a bit returned some solid research paper on tolerable waiting time: http://cba.unl.edu/research/articles/548/download.pdf

Disclaimer: I'm providing these links as examples and I am not affiliate with Hipmunk nor with Kiss Metrics.


Ideally you could use a form of faceted search that would already be able to indicate the number of results. Example:

Search Term: Shoes (20 results)

Filter by Color:
Red (5)
Blue (10)
Green (5)
Yellow (0)

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