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On my e-commerce site, we are implementing search suggestion to help users find their products quicker.

Most sites displays 10 suggestions but my teammate is suggesting 5.

From the UX perspective, how many suggestions should we display for search suggestion?

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Some quick autocomplete checks that I did:

  • Google desktop autocomplete: 4 suggestions
  • Google mobile / responsive autocomplete (iPhone): 5 suggestions
  • Bing autocomplete: 8 suggestions
  • Ask Jeeves (!) autocomplete: 8 suggestions
  • Amazon autocomplete: 10 suggestions
  • Play.com autocomplete: 10 suggestions
  • Ebay.co.uk autocomplete: 11 suggestions
  • Ticketmaster: 10 suggestions

As you can see from these quick comparisons that I did, results vary between the type of search that your user is performing - search engines like Google and Bing tend to return a small handful of results, like your teammate suggested, while e-commerce sites tend to return further results.

On occasions like these, I would sometimes choose to trust the logic of these large e-commerce-based companies, who will have no doubt A/B tested the hell out of their websites for optimal performance and results. From a UX perspective, personally I have no issue with seeing 10 results if I am trying to find a product on desktop; I would maybe narrow it down to 5 if your site is responsive. IMO, stick with your instinct and go with 10. ;)

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The problem is not however just restricted to a number n.

In an ecommerce site, you would want to show items in categories or groups. Take flipkart here Flipkart

Flipkart shows 5 items at a time but within those 5 items, they could display n number of categories again.

I take a reverse approach in a site I developed, Gnostopedia, where I display results by category and then items in those categories.

Gnostopedia

This works for better for content based sites rather than product based sites.

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