I am working on a web app where authorized users log in and review a large list where they review the items and interact with them based on the information in the item.

I am working on the options for search. The image below shows the 3 basic options (assume the third search option could have the icon on either side) . I really like the answers for the question: What is the rationale for the design of search input fields? but I have some additional

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My Questions:

  • For users who typically utilize keyboard controls does the option without an additional button add any value? The only other argument I can think of for not having a button is to save screen real-estate.

  • Once the user makes an initial query does it make sense to open the advanced search controls with the results so they can modify their initial search? I don't know that this is a great approach since it makes the assumption the user may not have found the information they are looking for.

  • Really you should keep your posts to one question at a time rather than 2 or more. Each post here is one question and its answer(s). In answer to your first point though: Buttons against site search fields are useful. For users who use screen readers it is reasonably common for them on opening the site to press the 'B' key (jumping them to the first button on the page) and then shift-tab to move back into the search field. It's how a lot of such users interact - jumping straight to the Search field to avoid all the navigation. Removing the search button means they cannot do this.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 22:37

1 Answer 1


To answer your first question. I don't see any real benefit to omitting the button. Even if you have the visual cue, people expect to click on something and user interface is always about matching people expectations.

For your second question. It makes a lot of sense to open the advanced search options after the initial query. Especially if there's no indicator to open them. An extra button adds to the clutter and may be confused for the search action for the initial query. So omitting it is fine. And it's not really an assumption that the user hasn't found the information they're looking for but would rather like to narrow down the list of results to something more relevant.

It boils down to who is your audience. You said typically use the keyboard so there may be a couple of people here and there who are confused.

Obviously it's absolutely needed for non-technical audience. Google was experimenting with this on their homepage and they kept the button.

My (semi) conservative advice is if you have a mobile and desktop version, include the button on the desktop,but not on mobile.

I think you can in general afford to be a bit more 'forward' with mobile designs and dynamic keyboard text (ie. "search" button instead of "enter") gives your user the context that would otherwise be missing

If you have a very large audience, I'd be careful about omitting a button like this - a lot of people's behaviour is still accustomed to clicking buttons. A visual cue is necessary to indicate search like in your third option. I've seen lots of search fields without the button, but they either require a couple of actions to access the field or have a clear label.

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