On my site I have a search bar like this:

enter image description here

The user types something in and presses enter. There is nothing they can click on to submit the search. I could make the icon on the right clickable but it certainly doesn't look like a button now and I quite like the way it looks. I could add something to the placeholder, e.g. "Search and press Enter" but again I like how minimal it is now and this will only help if they think to read the placeholder before typing something in.

Can I assume that the vast majority of people on the Internet have figured out when pressing Enter is likely to work?

The site aggregates search results from multiple online stores (linking directly to them) so the users already need some web proficiency to be able to accomplish anything.



Paparazzi sampled four major sites for their behavior, which is a good methodology, but his/her observations were wrong. The correct is:

  • google.com: Enter and button:
      enter image description here
  • bing.com: Enter and button:
      enter image description here
  • amazon.com: Enter and button:
      enter image description here
  • stackexchange.com: Enter but no button.

Safe to say, google.com is the gold standard for search for "people on the Internet" (OP's description of the target audience).

Also regarding Paparazzi's comment "I am a developer for a living and I did not know the icons were buttons": this is another reminder that a developer, or a UX professional for that matter, should not view him/herself as a regular user.

  • 1
    Like I said, this is a duplicate question and it feels wrong to ignore the answer from the other question, even we have other observations. ux.stackexchange.com/questions/23440/… – Madalina Taina Aug 2 '16 at 11:37
  • 1
    Agreed, @MadalinaTaina, so I upvoted your answer (and your comment). However in my opinion the observation that Google, Bing and Amazon do not have buttons could not stand unchallenged (yes, I know there are comments disputing it, but a proper answer has better visibility). Also, my guess is that many people think of a search and a form as different things, so I didn't find the question to be an exact duplicate (although the rationale you quote is still valid). – bjornte Aug 2 '16 at 11:44
  • 1
    I supposed this is the reason why this question was not treated as duplicate. I'm a developer and for me it is the same thing. Anyway, I insisted to mention that link because I saw there some really good reasons to add the button. To be honest, I like buttons because it feels more safe, it make me feel like I have more control. – Madalina Taina Aug 2 '16 at 11:52
  • 1
    @MadalinaTaina btw, here's an exact duplicate: Do you need a search button with a search box? – bjornte Aug 2 '16 at 14:03
  • @bjomte I up-voted your answer and I liked how you explained, but I still think it is better to flag a question like this as duplicate or let comments like we did, so future users see all the answers. – Madalina Taina Aug 2 '16 at 14:21

You can see the response to your question here. I find it enough complete and clear.

"Why is it inaccessible to create a form with no submit button? 1. What if the user doesn't have a keyboard? 2. Unresponsive UI 3. Confusing interaction 4. Limited discoverability 5. Contextual dependency/modes"


You should have a button.

Can you have a shorter input box and then place the button? You can design a button not so heavy visually and keep the minimal style to the rest of the website.

do not sacrifice your UX over a minimalist look.



Even if it's never clicked, the button is still useful. The presence of a button visually indicates that nothing will happen until you tell it to. If I saw a search bar with no search button, I would assume it would perform searches as I type. My first thought when I start typing would be "why isn't it searching yet?"

Edit: Challenging what I just said: I've never noticed until just now that the search bar at the top of this site lacks a button and I've used it several times without a second thought.

I would probably attribute this to the layout of the page though. Being in the top right of the page, tucked away above a navigation bar and a sidebar, it doesn't appear that it would retrieve search results in real-time. There is nowhere that I would expect live search results to show up.

In short, if your page is laid out such that it appears it could accommodate live results, I believe users might hesitate and wonder why it isn't searching yet.


I sampled four major sites for their behavior

  • stachexchange = enter no button
  • google = enter no button
  • bing = enter no button
  • amazon = enter no button

I think it is safe to say enter no button is the standard

  • google, bing, and amazon do have buttons, but they're just icons. – Alex Hall Jul 31 '16 at 17:05
  • @AlexHall I am a developer for a living and I did not know the icons were buttons – paparazzo Jul 31 '16 at 20:18
  • I think if you didn't know you could press Enter to submit (or it didn't work somehow) you'd likely guess you could click on that as your only remaining option. – Alex Hall Jul 31 '16 at 20:20
  • @AlexHall OK - still does not change I did not know. – paparazzo Jul 31 '16 at 20:23
  • My point is you didn't know because you didn't feel the need to look carefully or guess because you know how to use the bars otherwise. They're a compromise between style and usability because the text "Search" would look ugly. But they are styled like buttons. What's in my question is not. In the end I went with something that looks a lot like the google one. – Alex Hall Jul 31 '16 at 20:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.