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Before displaying a table of results on a page I first require the user to select some options from some dropdowns.

I have a button after the dropdowns which when clicked/tapped will work out which results to show in the table based on their dropdown choices.

I want to know what to call this button when the user first comes to the page. i.e. when there is no table displayed and they haven't clicked it yet. Should it say "Find", "Search", something else?

And then after they have displayed this table and they change the dropdown choices should the button say "Update Results", or stay the same?

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    My suggestion: Try "Show entries" or "Show data" or "Show {insert correct word here}" instead of "find" or "search". – Alexej Froehlich Aug 5 '14 at 11:32
  • nice suggestion – Dave Haigh Aug 5 '14 at 11:56
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'Search' is universally associated with the functionality you've described above.

When the user comes to the page, the button takes secondary importance as you need the user to do some filtering/ selections first. In this case, you can keep the button greyed out till all required selections have been made.

'Update results' would be a good choice if the user chooses to alter the search criteria.

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I associate "search" with a more open-ended query, almost always involving a text box input (though not necessarily keyword search). The process you're describing I think is more "filtering". I would use a filter icon (a funnel) as opposed to a search icon (magnifying glass). I also really like "Show Matching ...". Definitely not "Find", though, as that implies searching within what's already been loaded/filtered.

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Maybe the button could say, "Show All," before any options are selected, (or if no options are selected, if that's a possibility.) Then when an option is changed, change the button label to say something like, "Show Matching Records." I think the, "Show Matching," label is appropriate in this case, because your users are trying to match the selected criteria.

Having said that, I don't think you can really go wrong with search, find, or any of the other suggested labels.

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I would highly recommend using the word "Search" as it is the convention most common on internet and desktop applications. In specific instances you may want to break the convention/expectation, but there should be a good reason. (For example, perhaps this is an application for a specific set of users like Librarians and the word "Search" is already strongly associated with something they do. In that case you may want to use "find" in order to prevent confusion for your users.)

For your second question, I would continue to use the word "Search" for subsequent filtering or altering of the dropdown choices. Changing the wording would be appropriate if you are also significantly changing the tool itself. Lund puts it best with "Things that look different should act different."

  • Lund, A. M. (1997). Expert ratings of usability maxims. Ergonomics in Design, 5(3), 15-20. A study of the heuristics design experts consider important for good design.
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Like others already said - go with "Search". It's a most common word pattern used in most interfaces since ages.

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Search
Disable (gray) the Search when the execute
When they change an option or clear then Enable Search

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