The Power of Blank State.

Designing a UI to handle a tremendous amount of data is a very difficult challenge. It requires that you have a deep understanding of what information your users prioritize, and how to make complex data look simple and have the most relevant information become the most obvious.

But you're a pro and eat visualizing big data for breakfast. You're ready. You develop an approach that works for both smaller clients as well as massive enterprise systems...and the unexpected. Nailed it.

But what about when there is no data? What happens to your UI on day one? You have a blank state.

And that's an opportunity.

Blank states generally are encountered by new users. They've just signed up and haven't invested enough time to populate their trial SaaS with any data. They're interested enough to sign up, but now, they're (quickly) clicking around to see if your product is the right product for them. Obviously, they're going to encounter an area with no data, and you have an opportunity to tell them how cool this page is going to be.

This past week, we were approaching the end of a sprint, and we had a blank state that was a bit of an after-thought. We were introducing an "alerts" page. We spent all sorts of time concerning ourselves about how alerts would be displayed...but what about when there were no alerts? What does it look like when all is clear.


A tiny celebration for no alerts. It's cute. It's MVP. If this goes out into the wild...we're fine. But. It's a lost opportunity.

The new copy I'm providing is:

"Congratulations! Everything is running smoothly. No alerts to report. If there was a problem with any printer in your fleet, we'll always display it here. In real time."

Icon didn't change. Background #f2f2f2 didn't change. CSS class didn't change...just a copy change. A 4-second fix for engineering, but a fix that communicates to first-time users what data will populate this page in the future.

For those that don't "get" the alerts tab, we just explained it, and hopefully, helped them understand how this new functionality will help them in future.