Should the user be notified that the results shown are from a different query currently in the search bar?

A Google search for 'Stack Exchange'

For example, the image above shows results for "stack exchange" and (after turning off instant results) changed the search bar to "stack overflow." I haven't yet searched for "stack overflow", but it's in my bar. Should the user be notified that the results below are for "stack exchange", not what's currently in the bar?

If so, what's the best way to do this?

  • Old results could be "greyed out" for visual indication of deprecation. Jun 6, 2016 at 13:21

3 Answers 3


A simple way would be to alter the framing of the input box, i.e. thick lines for "changed" text, thin lines for "old" text after searching.

Another idea: Add "Search results for ..." between the input box and the results. That makes it clear even for printed and saved pages.


If your user turns off instant search or you do not offer it, the user will expect the search results to not change until they submit the search form again. I would therefore prefer not to change the style or content of the search results page.


  • The user who edited the search string will (likely) be aware of the discrepancy with the search results
  • What would you show when the user changes the string back to the initial search?
  • What happens if the user navigates to the second page of the search results? Will the string be reset to match the current results?
  • If you decide to grey out the 'old' results, are they still clickable for the user? And is this clear?

I'm not sure if it's necessary for your application, but Google give this notification: enter image description here

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