idea, UX, web

[UX] Should my blank query (on a site) return any result ? [yet to complete]

While i was going through some site, i was looking for something. Okay, i admit it was a job site.I wanted to begin from ALL results then filter it down. So, I just hit “Search” without giving any query.

Should it return me with all or nothing?

I raised a question in UX forum of StackExchange (u know StackOverflow, right ?!) about that. What should be the smart approach to the classic UX problem? What is the current trend? What it should be ?

My Question was:

Almost all site include a “Search” facility. It can be a job site, blog, photography-sale, or forum.

usual format is like:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The Question is:

If user keep the input box empty, and hit ENTER (or click “Search” button), what should (s)he get ?

What would be the smartest UX approach ?

  1. return ALL e.g. Google jobs site
  2. return NOTHING, and notify user to enter search term
  3. bring up the dedicated search page e.g. this site
  4. return the HOT items right now on the site
  5. return the MOST_SEARCHED items, or
  6. return some RANDOM items
  7. does NOTHING

Is there any standardde facto, or research findings on this concern?

It started a lot of views (400 hits on first day) as well as answers, comments opinion. I got the point that it rang some bell.

I believe now that it’s an classic question.

i also did some fact-finding along the way. What is the approach of the leading web sites around the globe ?

Google / Bing: “Google and Bing handle this and their flow is to just ignore the search request if there is no search value entered and keep the user in the same page.” (Thanks, @Mervin on StackExchange)

Amazon: return back to homepage with an extra “/ref=nb_sb_noss_null” in the link

Google Jobs: returns ALL, sorted by “logging-location” and reverse-chrono. Page navigation says “Page 1 of many”

Chrome Web Store: just does nothing on pressing ENTER

Gmail: It is quite interesting. While in inbox, pressing “search” does nothing. But when user gives blankin advanced search, it (IMO, rightfully returns ALL Mails) with a notif. as “Invalid search query – returning all mail.”

gmail blank query message


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