The art of creating a good empty view –

Start to create empty views that turn bad experiences into delightful ones that will set your product apart from the rest.

A good empty view tells a story

For most of us, empty views (empty states, same same) are an afterthought. But they provide so much opportunity for designers to help drive engagement in the product. That’s why it’s important to spend time designing empty views that turn bad experiences into delightful ones.

An empty view is a state in your product that provides no data for the user to consume or interact with. Users can experience an empty view due to many different scenarios such as the following:

  • During on-boarding since it’s their first time using the product. Such as their list of saved items are empty.
  • When the product encounters an error and is unable to complete a task.
  • When information is loading or no information return. Such as an empty search results screen.
  • Due to a user action that removes information. Such as deleting messages in an inbox would result in an empty list of messages.

It’s important to design for these experiences. With that in mind let’s identify what a good empty view should do. I believe it should do three things and three things good.


The initial experience teaches users how to use our product and understand where they are in the experience. Also, we want to give the user an impression of how the screen will look once it is filled with data.

Deliver this information in a way that helps them visualise what the screen will look like when it’s populated. Also, try to provide an explanation of the content that lives on this screen and how to get that content.

The 404 page of Medium is a good example of informing the user.

Author: Shane Doyle

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