Trend Spotlight: Super/Mega Search Fields

Trend Spotlight: Super/Mega Search Fields

The web is bloated with new and ever-evolving UI elements.  Companies need it to be, to capture your attention.  They design these elements in an attempt to make the experience easier and work to outpace their competition for your attention.  You know the ones.  The little buttons that you click, the scroll functions that you employ, even the delays that occur when swiping through an app on your mobile device.  These user elements have become commonplace in our digital experiences.

It’s not so often that you come across something a little… different.  When we do, they sometimes go unnoticed, but yet other times jump out at you.

I frequent a website called Designspiration, which is a platform in which to browse and share visually inspirational works.  The other day, while browsing this site, I decided to search for hand drawn typography… and that’s when it happened.

The screen went blank.

Why would the screen go blank?

 Did it break?

  No…

  What’s that?

  Oh, it’s just an overlay, with the page content barely visible… And what’s this?

  A text field.

  No border, or rules around it.  Just a blinking cursor bar.  A little “hey… type something”.  So I did.  And the results?

  140px of beautiful, dark grey Helvetica Neue.

Was this love?

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Simple, clean, robust, and striking.  Why had I not seen this?  Why had I not thought of this before? And even better… you don’t even have to click on the search icon.  You can just begin typing.  Genius!

Any then, like any other designer with things to do, I went about my day & forgot about it.  Until I found myself on Codepen… searching for who knows what. JQuery animations for a website comp, or CSS3 style options for a form field.

I clicked on the search icon and low and behold, the screen goes dark.  Well… 50% of it went dark. And nestled within that darkness? 6rem (or in this case, 86px) of Telefon Black, with the hinting placeholder text; “Search”.

Perhaps not as gracefully done as on Designspiration, but captivating none the less… and bold.  The beginning of a trend? I think so.  At the very least, I hope so.

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There are few things as captivating as minimalism.  How better to showcase something that to strip away everything else, anything unnecessary, until all that is left is just your subject matter in pure form.  This is a web that I would like to see.  But in reality, there are advertisements that need to be accounted for, client ‘must haves’, and seemingly a million other things that populate (and often times crowd) a page.  And while I can’t give you a fix-all for how to de-clutter the content of a page, or convince your client that it would be alright if the logo were just 5% smaller… I can tell you this;

When your user clicks that ubiquitous little magnifying glass… everything else just melts away.

Contextual search remains an essential part of any digital experience.  Desktop, mobile, web, native, faceted, filtered, multi-site, domain – the volume of variance is astounding.  What’s even more surprising is that onsite or contextual search is often an afterthought (at best) for many digital owners.  The emerging trend of ‘super’ or ‘mega’ search fields is putting a spotlight, on… well, itself.  And as a user, it becomes abundantly clear, albeit unconsciously; this brand is listening.

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