I'll try to make it short, as the problem is simple but long to explain:

I'm using google autocomplete on a location search input. It's on the site's header so it should be quick and comfortable to use, this is how it looks (ignore the Map Search Button):

enter image description here

So as you might have noticed, it has two "submit" buttons, causing problems with the behaviour of the Autocomplete:

  1. If you click on any of the items, the form submits.
  2. If you hilight any item and hit Enter, the form submits.

You can try this out in google maps for example.

This would be perfect if there were no multiple options to be taken...

Because of the form element's behaivour it will submit using the first button as trigger by default.

But I would like to let the user to be able to pick between any of the 2 options, so through javascript I cancelled those 2 behaviours, so if you click on an item, it just places it in the input, and the same if you hit Enter, but a second hit on enter will submit the form. (This let you see the desired result in the input and pick one of the 2 options).

I feel that this will still confuse people. So I thought of some options, but can't decide myself:

  1. Leaving it as it is, highlighting the first button when user clicks on an item or hits enter, so they are visually guided to click it ( or hit enter again ) or click on the other button.

  2. Leaving as it is and showing a tooltip explaining what they can do for the first time.

  3. Replace the two submit buttons for two radio buttons, and let the Autocomplete submit the form when the item is clicked or Enter is Hit.

  4. A quick google search revealed that I would still need a search button for non-technical audience. On the other hand, having 3 elemts there, seems to me a bit too much, maybe it's just me being paranoid, but I wanted to keep the interface as simple as I can. So this option would be to have 2 radio buttons + a submit button, probably labeled "Search"

Any guidance and / or new suggestions will be welcome!

1 Answer 1


Why do they have to makes the decision about rent / buy at the exact same time as they're thinking about their location? Keep the action buttons related to the thing they're actually doing at the moment (entering a location) and not multiple things at the same time (location and rent/buy).

I would assume that knowing if it was rental or purchase that they were looking for then that's the very first decision they would have made, before even visiting your app.

Therefore you could detect that first before even rendering the site (based on entered Google search criteria used to find your site, or by Google ad terms etc) and then just apply the Rent / Buy as a pre-selected filter against the results. Something the use can swap themselves having entered their location already.

Alternatively, have that Rent / Buy question as an earlier prompt, before they've reached the location search.

Try to match the users mental model of how they go about searching for property. So an assumption would be:

  1. Decide they want to buy a house,
  2. research locations they want to live in,
  3. start looking for actual property in that location,
  4. start whittling down the results do meet more of what they want.

(This may not be the actual user journey, it's just something I'm assuming for the time being)

So my answer is twofold:

  1. Don't force the user to make two decisions at the same time
  2. Match the website user-journey to the users actual mental process
  • I see your point, actually one of the discarded options were to let the user submit the search location, then on the next "step" ask if they want something to buy, or to rent, but wouldn't that be a bit overkill ?
    – aleation
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:59
  • @aleation: Probably depends how you handle it. At some point you'll have to ask other questions too "what is your budget. What is your room number requirement. Do you need a garden. Do you need off-road parking..." Perhaps you could just have 'Rent or Buy' as filters against the results and not even bother asking that up-front. Who knows, perhaps people might want to look at both - by forcing them to decide that up-front you are preventing them from comparing the two ("I can afford to pay £1,000pm, would I get better house in Bristol if I bought or if I just rent...?")
    – JonW
    Mar 20, 2014 at 14:07

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