Autocomplete Element ❺

A CMS-capable dropdown UI that makes it easier to pick from longer lists.

Autocomplete, or predictive input, is a popular UX pattern that helps users navigate lists of options. In general it consists of two parts;

  • A text input, for the user to type partially-matching text in

  • A list, which appears and filters to display only items that partially-match the specified text.

    • Matching is typically anywhere in the string, and case-insensitive.


Here's an example showing SA5's autocomplete element used for navigation. In this example we have used a custom styled scrollbar, category headings and three collection lists, and the site search option.

Use Cases

The most common use cases for an autocomplete UX include;

  • Quick find the item you want in a product/service list, and navigate to that page.

Form input

  • Quick-select an a form input which encourages ( but not requires ) specific values

    • e.g. Common message topics for the support department

  • Quick-select an a form input which requires specific values

    • e.g. Choose from a list of countries

Usage Notes

VIDEO TUTORIAL Here's a full walkthrough of a basic build, from a blank page, to help you understand your design options and how the attributes are applied.

I want this dropdown element to be an SA5 autocomplete element.

Place this custom attribute on the Dropdown element itself.

wfu-autocomplete = ( no value needed )

Input Element

You'll place a form an input element within the dropdown's toggle element so that it is always visible.

Identify it with the following element-

wfu-autocomplete-input = ( no value needed )

Within the list, you'll place the elements you want to appear. This can include a collection list, or several.

List Item Elements

Place this directly on the list items you want to be filtered.

In the case of a collection list, place it on the Collection List Item element directly ( the innermost of the 3 element collection list structure ).

FUTURE. attributes applied to the parent of the list items ( the dropdown list itself ) can be used as a fallback default.

wfu-autocomplete-item identifies the items that you want filtered as the user types text.

Do not use this attribute on list items that should not be filtered, for example a Site Search item.

wfu-autocomplete-item-layout defined the layout the item should use when made visible.

  • block ( default )

  • flex

  • grid

  • etc.

Controlling the Matching Process

Matching can be controlled;

wfu-autocomplete-item-match-type= ( match string, typically from CMS )

is performed as;

  • default. ( default ) specific match text ( default )


  • inner text ( any )

  • FUTURE - specific inner text, sub-tagged

  • FUTURE - Exact match. MUST match exactly ( no partial entry ), and updates the main input. Prevent validation or even clear the field if no exact match is made. Used for some strict form entry use cases

Here you'll identify the matching string

wfu-autocomplete-item-match= ( match string, typically bound to a CMS field )


  • Default - anywhere in the string, all lowercase

  • Start of string only, case-insensitive

  • Regex, specific string?

  • Custom - use a callback function?


  • Regex

  • Callback function?

Controlling the Item's Click Action

When a match item is clicked, you can control its action by adding this attribute to the item.

wfu-autocomplete-item-action = ( action type )

Action type is one of;

  • navigate ( default ). Does nothing and allows the item's own link to navigate

  • search. Initiates a site search using Webflow's native search feature


  • custom.

wfu-autocomplete-item-action-config = ( varies )

On custom, this specifies the callback function to run.

FUTURE. Default item-level settings can be inherited from the dropdown's element directly.

Tips & Best Practices

Have more than 100 CMS items to match?

If the number is reasonable, say < 200 or < 300, you can place several consecutive collection lists, setup identically. Do not enable pagination, instead use the from and to ranges, e.g. 1 to 100, 101 to 200, 201 to 300.

Site Search Item ( optional )

Within the list, you can add an item which will take the user's entered text and initiate a full site search. Take advantage of this for a more comprehensive UX experience.

  • Add a static item to your dropdown list, at the start or at the end

  • Style it differently so that it stands out

  • Use attr wfu-autocomplete-item-action = search

  • Do not use wfu-autocomplete-item

To use this, you must have Webflow's site-search configured.


The Dropdown Element

  • If this is in your header and can overlap a nav, you want a higher z-index. Set this directly on the Dropdown Element, e.g. z-index: 9999.

The Dropdown Toggle

  • Style how you like

  • Change to display block rather than inline-block

  • Pull the label out, for optimal alignment with the dropdown carat

  • Optionally, move the dropdown's toggle icon inside of the form, just after the text input field

The Dropdown List

  • Give it a max height of e.g. 60vh.

  • Set it to overflow-y: auto, using custom properties at the bottom of the style panel.

  • Top and bottom padding e.g. 10px.

  • Can contain;

    • Static items, like Dropdown Links or Link Blocks

    • Collection lists

    • Multiple collection lists

The Dropdown List Items

  • Add a hover effect for styling

  • Can be any arrangement of elements you want within a link block or DIV

  • Can be variable heights, including wrapped text

  • Can include icons

Technical Notes


  • Designed to be self-contained, everything in an SA5 autocomplete element exists as content and child elements within the dropdown element itself.

    • This makes it easy to reference elements, and allows you to easily have several autocomplete elements on the same page.

  • Designed to leverage Webflow's native dropdown element, so that it will close when you click outside of it.

  • Designed to utilize CMS data when appropriate, via collection lists.

  • Designed to integrate with site search if you also have that available.

  • Designed to support complex list item styling and layouts


  • Possible sorting

  • Possible ranking, e.g.

    • start-of string matches get a stronger signal than middle-of-string

    • case-match v. non-case-match?

  • Direct integration with search results

Getting Started ( NOCODE )

STEP 1 - Add the Library

First, add the library as detailed in Quick Start.

STEP 2 - Apply the custom attributes to the elements you want to affect

See above for details.

Last updated