I'm working on an app with a list we want users to be able to search. I'm tempted to add the 'standard' search box out of sight above the list for iOS (like Mail and other stock apps etc).

However, I got thinking about whether this is really good UX. Every now and then I come across someone who still realised you can search mail, yet when you know it's likely to be there it's quite a nice clean UI approach.

Also aware Android and iOS have very different UX approaches on areas like this.

So is this a good idea? Given we'll have other things like sort and filter for out list too, are there any better approaches to take?

(Sorry if this has been asked before, I couldn't find it)

4 Answers 4


As with any sort of UX / IXd this is highly subjective; one person might think it's a wise idea, another not. I'm of the opinion that it's could be good, if it's implemented well.

If I understand your question you are basically asking for a way to hide a control so that the UI looks cleaner, which is perfectly fine. But what you need to consider if you wish to hide functionality is that it is intuitive for the user; that the user understand that the control is there. Key things to look at would be affordance and that the design is intuitive.

I'd suggest using a similar approach to any competitors or any major players doing the same thing as what you want. You mentioned Mail (I'm assuming Apple?) and stock applications.

Another important thing to keep in mind is consitency; if you already have a search functionality implemented in your app, then you should use the same in this 'view'. That would lessen the active processing required by the user. This is far more important than keeping the app's native OS's UX design in mind.

Meaning if you have a way of searching any other view in your app, then it's more important that it's consistent with that view than having it consistent with how the mail of OS the app is running on (Gmail or Apple Mail).

I hope that helped somewhat! :)


I'm tempted to add the 'standard' search box out of sight above the list for iOS (like Mail and other stock apps etc).

You could make it so that it starts visible and slides up out of view.

  • 2
    Good suggestion. Adding an explanation like "because then the user will be aware of it's presence." will improve the quality of your answer ;) Feb 1, 2017 at 8:22

I agree it's a nice way to hide the search until it's needed, but as you mention yourself if it's out of sight it can be lost to users.

What helps in mail is the fact that you pull down to refresh and that brings the search into view and helps with discovery. Still that requires users to be familiar with the pull down to refresh.

Some prototype testing would be a good way to find out what works best for you if you really want to go for the clean look. But all that work and exploration will be time consuming, and you could just add a search icon/button that brings the search box into view.

Then you can track it's use and compare the pull down vs button press and iterate in future versions/releases.


I think it's really bad, based on the anecdotal evidence of myself. I'm a "power user"/software developer, yet when I checked my mail on my iPad tonight (which I use rarely), I knew there was a way to search mail but gave up looking for it after about 30 seconds and 5 or 6 taps.

Compact search boxes (a small text box with an embedded magnifying glass icon) are pretty small- you can't spare the space for one?

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