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Ultimate Guide on Empty States to Enhance UX

Are you familiar with what “empty states” for UX means?

For those who don’t know what empty states are  (no judgment!), these are screens in the UI not filled with information but that will soon have content on them once the users populate those empty states.

One prime example is an app that allows users to add their favorite products or place their items in a virtual shopping cart. Another example is completing a search that has shown no results. Basically, it is a part of your user experience even when there’s nothing to display, but as you continue through the customer journey, it fills up with information.

Empty states are actually overlooked real estate when it comes to UX design, and they have the potential to acquire and convert users. But how can you take advantage of empty state UX?

Read on for a helpful guide on how to enhance your UX with empty states.

How to Use Empty States and Enhance Your UX

Empty states don’t necessarily have to be empty. You’ll be surprised by how these parts of a website or app can help keep users exploring what you have to offer! Here are some of the best practices to design empty states and enhance your UX:

1. Guide Users

Don’t leave people hanging! Leaving them in your UI will have them wonder what to do, eventually leaving if they don’t know the next step, looking for other apps or websites to give them what they need.

Help them understand why they see an empty state or recommend new products instead. It’s best that you place a call-to-action button on the screen.

Basically, the call to action should tell someone how to turn their empty screen into a filled one.

With a good call to action,  the users to follow what needs to be done to add information or remove that empty state. This will keep them engaged and staying in your app or website.

2. Suggest Alternatives

This tip is suitable for those who are selling products or services, or for those who have search bars on their websites. If users search for something that doesn’t exist, then you should provide close matches to their search terms. This will give users the chance to navigate through other sections, which will increase the chance of them staying engaged in your website and considering your offerings.

For instance, if a user searched for ‘Pizza’, you shouldn’t leave them with an empty space without any recommendations. This would most likely end their buying journey. Instead, add related searches by including terms near to what they searched for (and what you offer), such as ‘Burger’, ‘Pasta’, and more.

3. Offer Starter Content

If you offer online services and users have to start filling out empty states themselves, then populate those spaces with preformed settings  for users to get working right away. They will then be able to fill out those empty spaces shortly afterward, staying engaged while doing so.

This tip is useful for apps that are meant to store content like books or music, or those that  offer formatted content like documents or notes. It will enable you to give users the chance to change their starter content, which maintains engagement since the user is filling those empty states themselves.

4. Add More Personality

You take care not to sound like a robot anywhere in your app or website. This should also go for your empty state! Add more personality into the empty state by communicating in a friendly, and even humorous, manner. Just make sure that when you do so, you are keeping the user’s context and end goal in mind.

When you are adding humor to a UI, use this tool with caution. While that line may be funny and fresh today, it may end up sounding corny and cause you to lose customers the next.

Furthermore, make sure that when you add more personality, your style of communication remains consistent with your brand. Your text should include helpful messages and convey a purpose without seeming insincere.

5. Use More Illustrations

When you combine straightforward text with interesting illustrations, you have a better empty state! Illustrations help encourage users to continue interacting with your app or website. Just make sure that the illustrations you use are fresh, enticing, and relevant to the empty state.

This tip is helpful if users come across error messages, but which include a cheery and witty illustration that takes advantage of the entire empty state and hopefully lessens the frustrations that they feel.

6. Educate the User

You can use the empty state to help users learn how to use your product or service. This helps with the overall onboarding experience, which is essential to retain users. 

Did you know that after a 3-month period, only 4 of 100 users continue using an app? That’s why you need to make the onboarding experience go well. By taking advantage of an empty state to teach users how to use your app, or inform them about  the new updates they can utilize, you will maximize the number of people who keep using your app over time.

Wrapping it up

There are many amazing benefits of empty states. They  provide website owners with an opportunity to put in more brand personality. With the right combination of visuals and words, you can communicate with your users better, helping them achieve the goals they have when they visit your app or site. This is why owners need to invest more time and attention in designing empty states, even if there won’t be as much information there as compared to other areas.

I hope that you learned more about how you can design empty states for a better user experience in this guide! Do keep all these tips and information in mind as you design your website, and you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your hard work.

If you have questions or want to share your insights on empty states and improving UX, comment below. All of your thoughts are much appreciated!

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