Lets say a user saves a search called „documents created yesterday“. The day goes by and next morning the user calls up her saved search.

What would she expect? To see her documents she created yesterday or the day before yesterday?

Should saved search queries show content relative to the date the search was saved? Or relative to the date the search was triggered?

What is more natural? What context would justify which solution?

  • There was a similar question asked a few months ago where the OP found that users were unable to grasp that views (I think the word "filter" was used) are not a snapshot of the database as it was when the view was created, but that it always retrieves up-to-date information.
    – cimmanon
    Jun 2, 2014 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


What does the user want to get from saving the search? Do they want to:

  • Save an actual list of documents that they are interested in?
  • Save a shortcut that they can always use to see what they worked on yesterday?

The actual filter criteria the user set is more informative in determining what they were trying to achieve.

If the only reference to "yesterday" is in the text label imputted by the user, and the search filter criteria had a fixed date specified, then I would say that your user will expect to see the same list of results no matter what day in the future they choose to look at it.

If the filter criteria selected by the user is a date / date range that is a moving timeframe (e.g. the user can select "today", "yesterday", "last week" from a menu and apply them to their search filter), then you should move the timeframe relative to the current date.

  • List vs. shortcut. That explanes it the best in my case. Thank you.
    – uxfelix
    Jun 17, 2014 at 6:11

This is a question of the "time responsibility" of the system.

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If you shift left, i.e. a user is responsible for the time tracking, it means:

  • user uses "internal" calendar (in his/her mind)
  • user has full control over labeling the search results
  • user sets time-related labels to the search results, according to internal calendar
  • user can be inconsistent in time-related labels, but he/she is certain about labeled content
  • user expects to see exactly the same documents, which were saved under "yesterday" label

The example is a blog post named "The book I've read yesterday" -- yesterday is label but relates to fixed content

If you shift right, i.e. the system is responsible for time tracking, then:

  • the system provides time-related labels, like "yesterday", "last week", etc.
  • this labels are the alphabet of the system and user doesn't create it, but just uses it
  • label meanings are consistent, i.e. "yesterday" is always the day before today
  • most users rely on the system's alphabet and expects to see yesterday results under "yesterday" label, etc.

The example is organizing History in browser, where the browser applies "Today", "Yesterday", etc. labels to the list of items. These are the labels which relates to non-fixed content (today's Today is Yesterday on next day). .

To make a system more usable and to support user in time-related activities,

  • allow user to label the results, in most cases they will give more semantical names, like "books on photography", "bicycle repair", etc.
  • use calendar control near these actions to help user to reference to date and time if time tracking is needed
  • auto generate and apply to the saved content metadata which includes the date and time information
  • provide tools to handle with data-related content, like search, filtering, etc.

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