I'm currently working on a search engine for a software package. With this search, you can search for specific events in a video file if the software can find it.

You set a predefined set of filters, you enter some values into these filters and the software will show some thumbnails if they meet the parameters you entered. The idea is to get as little results as possible.... if you have more than 10 results, you are still being to vague. Results are shown in a grid of thumbnails next to the list of parameters, with a maximum of 20 thumbnails at the same time... more results are paged (but like i said, the goal is to get at least under 10 results).

Now my idea was to first set your parameters and then press a search button to initialize the search. IF you still got to many results, you would edit the filters and search again. My project manager actually wanted to start searching as soon as you opened up the engine. Meaning you would first get all possible events the software can find, and when you enter some parameters, the results will be filtered to lower and lower results until you find what you are looking for. Just like most online shops do it with Faceted Navigation.

Which option would be better for a situation like this. I have a feeling that a constant updates for every action you take is distracting for the user.

2 Answers 2


Starting to display search results as the user types is better because it provides instant feedback. This is why Facebook does it. The main reason not to use this approach is difficulty of implementation.

Now, you also mention displaying results before the user starts typing anything. If the primary use case is searching, then this is confusing and distracting (think if Facebook displayed top search results before you typed anything). For an e-commerce application, you still might want to show popular results immediately, but that doesn't sound like the case for your application.


First of all use search button. I think it a standard, because it's annoying when you type something and the content updates on every letter you wrote. I suggest you to place filters on a panel down the search text field. This panel is hidden and appears on button/link click. This button is also hidden and appears near the search button if there are many results (greater than 10 in your case). So you will have nice and easy solution to reduce results count.

  • Thanks for the tips, however....there is no search field, only a set of filters you can enable. For example, you want to view all the faces in a movie.... so you enable "FACES"... then you want to only see all the female faces, you click on Female faces only. And i agree that you should press a search button, but your argument doesn't really help to convince others. My project manager really liked the website "Tweakers Pricewatch" and wanted it based on their search system. tweakers.net/categorie/215/mobiele-telefoons/producten Everything you do there is updated instantly...
    – DennisW
    Nov 25, 2013 at 15:46
  • Seems like amazon.com works the same way. My argument for the search button is that you need to send one more request to server and disturb the search engine if the user wants to cancel filtering. Otherwise with the search button you can provide an option to user to cancel operation. Confirmational way. Nov 25, 2013 at 16:00

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