What is An Empty State in UX Design?
An empty state refers to the state of an application where the user interface (UI) does not have any content or data to display. This can happen when a user first time opens an app or website, performs a search that returns no results, or something goes wrong when the user is interacting with UI.
Empty space can be considered a way to communicate with the user about something useful. It can be the real purpose of your application, or it can be an action to resolve the empty state.
For example, an empty search result can display a message that no results were found, as well as suggestions for alternative search terms so that the user can continue the interaction with the UI.
Empty states should be designed carefully as they make an impression on your user. A well-designed empty state guides the user and provides a clear path forward, while a poorly-designed empty state can be confusing or frustrating.
Types of Empty State
There are different types of empty states you can display at various points in your application.
- Initial empty state: This empty state displays when an application is first opened by the user and has no content to display. This can be common when a user starts using your application.
- Empty search results: This is the state of the UI when a user performs a search and no results are found.
- No data available: This can happen when a user has not entered any data into the application, or when there is a temporary issue with the source of data.
- No internet connection: This scenario occurs when the user does not have an internet connection and cannot access content from the internet.
These are the most common types of empty states. There can be other types depending on the context of the user within your application.
How Does Empty State Impact the UX of your Application?
Usually designing the empty states is ignored when UX designers are working on an application. There are several reasons behind this.
One of the main reasons is the lack of understanding of the importance of empty states, and UX designers usually prioritize other areas of the application.
Other reasons can be the lack of time or making the assumption that the application will always have something to display on the UI.
A well-designed empty state helps to improve the user experience of your application in several ways.
- It helps to communicate the purpose of the application. The user should learn something from an empty state like what the application does and how it can be used. This is particularly important for new users who may not be familiar with the application.
- It provides guidance to the user. An empty state suggests actions the user can perform to view the desired content, such as searching or creating a new item. This helps to reduce the confusion about what to do next.
- It helps to avoid frustration. A poorly-designed empty state can be confusing or frustrating for users, thus leaving a negative impact. On the other hand, a well-designed empty state minimizes frustration and improves your application’s overall experience.
A proper UX design for empty states is important because it helps to ensure that users understand the purpose of the application and know what actions they can take to achieve the desired goals.
Tips to Design Effective Empty State
Below are a few tips for designing effective empty states for your application.
1. Communicate the Purpose of Your Application
Use the empty state to explain the purpose of the Application like what it does and how it can be used.
2. Suggest Actions that User Can Take
Provide suggestions for actions that the user can take to populate the interface with content, such as performing a search or creating a new item.
3. Use Visuals
Use illustrations or other imagery to help the user understand the purpose of the app or website, or to suggest actions that the user can take.
4. Keep the Design Simple
Avoid cluttering the empty state with too much text or several many elements. Keep the design simple and focused on the key message or action that you want the user to take. A simple empty state design includes a title, description, image, and action.
5. Validate Designs with Users
Test and validate the empty state with real users to get their feedback. Use this feedback to improve your design.
6. Consider the Context
Think about the context in which the empty state will appear and design it accordingly. For example, if the empty state displays when the user has no internet connection, it should include a message about the loss of connection and suggestions for alternate actions.
Actions to Provide in Empty State
When designing empty states for your application, it is important to suggest actions that the user can take to explore the features of the application. Below are a few examples of actions that you can suggest to users in empty states.
- Perform a search: If your application has a search feature, suggest the user search for the content they are looking for.
- Create a new item: If the user is new to your application, you can suggest creating a new item to display something on the screen.
- Explore feature set: Provide an action to allow users to explore other application features to find content or functionality they want to use.
- Connect to a data source: If the application relies on a data source to load the interface with content, you can suggest that the user to connect to the data source to retrieve the content.
- Contact support: If the user is facing an issue and cannot access the content, suggest them to contact support for assistance.
Examples of Well-Designed Empty State
Below are a few examples of well-designed empty states. Remember, a good empty state guides the users by suggesting to them the actions they can perform to continue interacting with the application.
In summary, a well-designed empty state can positively impact the user experience of an application and can help increase user engagement and understanding.
By following the given tips and guidelines, you can use empty states to educate your users about the application and its working. In general, it is important for UX designers to pay attention to the design of empty states and to consider how they can improve the user experience of the application, even when there is no content to display.