UX : No Submit Button with a Search Box

almost 8 years ago from , Head of Product Design @Heetch

I wondered if this is acceptable to NOT have a submit button next to a search field. What d'you think, designers ?


  • Kyle MitchellKyle Mitchell, almost 8 years ago

    I think regardless of the audience, you need those kind of visual cues, the button is merely the call to action, and reinforces to the user what the action will be. I thought it might be an interesting solve to actually put the CTA within the dialog box on context... so when the box validates that something is within it, the CTA pops in like so: https://iceber.gs/p?51407e3cd9c3e

    4 points
    • Marcello MansoMarcello Manso, almost 8 years ago

      I partially agree. I had the same question some time ago when I was redesigning a search page.

      It would look cleaner, cooler and unclustered if I just removed the search button, but it is an important visual clue to identify the search feature. I still think that putting the CTA inside the box would be a nice and trendy effect, but with no real benefits to the user.

      0 points
    • Al HaighAl Haigh, almost 8 years ago

      This is the method I prefer for a clean interface

      0 points
  • Adam WintleAdam Wintle, almost 8 years ago

    In my opinion it all depends on who your target audience is, people accustomed to using a computer are just going to hit return, maybe more inexperienced computer users will look for a search button. I'd say its safer to include the button.

    3 points
  • Chris FreesChris Frees, almost 8 years ago

    Unless the search results are showing up as you type (like Google instant search), I think you should stick with a submit button. I'm sure most UN-tech-savy people will naturally be looking for a button or icon, so like Adam W. said, I think it depends on your audience.

    1 point
  • Nick WNick W, almost 8 years ago

    Who is your audience?

    My (semi) conservative advice is if you have a mobile and desktop version, include the button on the desktop,but not on mobile.

    I think you can in general afford to be a bit more 'forward' with mobile designs and dynamic keyboard text (ie. "search" button instead of "enter") gives your user the context that would otherwise be missing

    If you have a very large audience, I'd be careful about omitting a button like this - a lot of people's behaviour is still accustomed to clicking buttons. As mentioned in the thread, a visual cue is necessary to indicate search. I've seen lots of search fields without the button, but they either require a couple of actions to access the field or have a clear label.

    1 point
  • Alvaro NistalAlvaro Nistal, almost 8 years ago

    I'm now redesigning the mobile and desktop versions of our website, and both of them lacks of a submit button in the search boxes. I think that when the user identifies a search box, they just hit return.

    Google and all the big search companies set up the trend.

    1 point
  • Antonio PratasAntonio Pratas, almost 8 years ago

    I guess it's all about your target market and if you're willing to take the risk. Twenty eleven, the wordpress theme doesn't use any kind of button, and this one was used A LOT. http://twentyelevendemo.wordpress.com/

    So this way the user would have to press enter, and I don't have a problem with that since it's what I already do in every form, but if you have non-techie or less informed people in your website, they will lack the cue and probably won't be able to search. So, are you willing to take the risk?

    0 points
  • Emily Campbell, almost 8 years ago

    Actual use seems to be split down the middle (http://patterntap.com/tags/type/search). I agree with the consensus opinion, that your choice should reflect your audience. However, unless you are redesigning the AARP website, or otherwise catering to geriatrics, examples abound across the web that should leave you feeling safe to omit the button.

    A mid-point solution might be to show the input button on focus, just like Facebook/Twitter/DN etc do on input boxes for comments and status updates. I actually don't know of this being used anywhere, but it would seem to keep your interface clean while providing a clear action for the user. Anyone have an opinion on this?

    0 points
  • Fred YatesFred Yates, almost 8 years ago

    I know there's probably no definitive research but when I see anyone that isn't very tech savvy hit Enter in a search field, I think that's when I'm OK not including a submit button.

    My dad for instance still types URLs into the google search field, no matter how many times I tell him not to BUT he hits Enter to see the results. That's not to say I won't include submit buttons but if it's good for the design, I'm OK with not including them at this point.

    0 points
  • Joe VillanuevaJoe Villanueva, almost 8 years ago

    Is the platform mobile or desktop? Either way, I think it's acceptable.

    Simply having "Search for ____" or something similar would be a good visual indicator of the fields use.

    However, placement is also a good visual indicator for more experienced users. If its in the nav bar, many users may automatically associate it with the search field. If it was free floating somewhere in the middle of a page however, it might be misconstrued as a form field.

    I've often seen a search field without a submit button because it used AJAX to display a drop down list of results.

    A good example of a Search box without a Submit button is Facebook's search feature, which is located in the top bar and doesn't have a Submit button for the search box.

    0 points
  • Shea MolloyShea Molloy, almost 8 years ago

    Maybe you could boil it down to an icon within the search box. I wonder if it would ever work to just tap the search box you just typed in.

    0 points