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Our search box starts suggesting popular search queries to users as they start typing in their query. We also have the ability for the user to specify some options to search within some fields. At the moment, the search gets automatically initiated the moment the user selects one of the suggestions(This pattern is being used by the Gmail search box).

This can be annoying especially if the user's intention was to just select the search term and then specify parameters for the advanced search. Is the solution to not initiate the search automatically and let the users just select the text from the suggestions and then have them hit enter ? (The downside is clearly the extra keypress)

This is the suggest drop down. The moment the user selects one of these values, search is initiated, annoying if all you wanted to do was select the suggest and select something from the advanced search panel

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I agree, that is annoying behavior, as Maciej Sawicki said, you should follow the google convention of searching, meaning clicking the suggestions starts the search but will still be focused on the input screen so you can continue typing. That way you can start evaluating if the search already has something usefull or just keep typing as you were.

Also, try to accommodate for the power user by considering to allow the arrow keys to be used to select an input (google allows this and will also let you continue your search). Another key you should also consider is the TAB key; when there are suggestions the tab key is known by many to select the first suggestion in the list (autocomplete) after wich the user can continue typing.

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Users are already used to conventions created by Google search. Sticking to this conventions is always the right choice.

See what Google does:

  • Clicking autocomplete triggers the search after clicking suggestion...
  • ...but doesn't empty the search input field afterwards, so that user can edit it, filter or click advanced search

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