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I'm looking to add recent search results when a user clicks in a free text search. I would like to populate recent search results with random data, or data based on the users local browsing habits. The reason for populating the recent search functionality is to give the user consistent functionality when they come back to the site for a second time.

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    That sounds like inconsistent functionality to me - the first time they visit they get some random results, but the next time they get their recent results. Sounds more likely to confuse users than to aid them in my opinion. – JonW Jan 29 '14 at 16:06
  • Thanks Jon, so you suggest they don't get any recent search results the first time a user visits? – Pete Avey Jan 30 '14 at 11:30
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Following on from my comments.

  • Choosing to show items based on their browsing habits is verging on creepy ("whoah, how did they know that I've been looking at X type of things?").
  • Showing random results isn't really helpful as the user doesn't have any context as to why those results are displaying.

It's a 'Recent Search Results' section. Therefore showing something in the Recent Results section when the user hasn't created any recent searches isn't really the best option as (as I mentioned in my comment) it's inconsistent with how that functionality works. - one time it's random results and the next time it's recent searches.

I would say you don't need to fill that space just because it's there. If it's designed to show recent results and there aren't any recent results then showing nothing is still a valid result.

Keep the functionality empty until you have something to populate it with. If anything, having the space there will provide feedback to the user that it has a future purpose. "Oh, when I start searching then I'll be able to see what I've searched for in the past in that little section of there..."

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