Empty states play a central role to engage, retain, and delight users at critical moments. In the scope of design, it includes creative solutions to convey empathy and relatability.
The empty States are widely referred to as Zero data screens but actually they aren’t. Their main intention and aim are to be presented to users in varied scenarios as an instructor, application guide, and information provider.
- Initial onboarding stage
- Error states and success messages
- 404’s etc. and more.
It is normal to believe that empty state screens are accent screens which defeat the need for detail and attention. This common misconception is due to the fact that people assume that the screens are visibly present for a very short or flick of time, that is, — they are just blank screens with a direction, alert message, and a CTA. While the above three elements are dominant in the case of Empty States, it is important that the user is to be kept in mind at all times and the definition of the ideal target audience should be extremely relevant when creating the same.
As designers, it is our duty to go above and beyond to ensure that our end-user is comfortable through the entire process. As a new user on a platform, it is necessary to optimize the situation to guide the user towards the functionality of the platform. This almost always translates to retainer-ship, as well. Comfortable users refrain from experimenting with new platforms.
“Empty states go beyond their name. They are incredibly resourceful in driving engagement, positively impacting users and retaining the same at critical and crucial moments — such as the download of an app or even any errors that present themselves”.
Win-Win Situation through the Empty States: An incredible middle ground
Though the main aim is to provide direction and guidance to the users, it is not the only objective. These directions or alert messages are a great untapped platform, where the objective of the application, its brand flavor, and the context can be infused and molded to provide — a successful user experience.
“The details show that you care about the small things as much as you care about the large. This helps establish a sense of trust with the users, which is a very important end goal of every user experience”
Back-end glitches are normal, but to a user — the conveyance of these errors have to include the elements of personalization and customization, to show that we really care about the problem in hand. This helps us stretch our brand personality to others and establish our brand voice. We must connect with our users at every opportunity present, and the Empty States are a great platform to ensure the same.
The well-designed Empty States that make use of creative design/illustration, great content, and a good storyline — will immediately appeal to users. It will help distract them from standardized glitch screens to a new exciting screen that will positively impact the user. This plays a large difference, as it removes the opportunity for the user to exit the application and move to another.
The empty States are to be customized and designed with the ideal target audience in mind. The design if creative, should be understandable and should relate to the message in hand.
Improving the Empty States
As we move on to the areas that need to be improved, this can be better portrayed with an example of our services. Below we have for you, the method that we used to power up the Empty States for a Mobile Application for a Banking Service.
The main objective of the application was to convey a “modern, simple, easy to use perfect banking partner”. The objectives also include emotion which is to be transferred to the user with the help of UI elements, especially through the Empty States.
From the images, we can decipher the message or context that is placed. Here, we have attempted to portray the main features of a bank application through creative empty states.
To begin with,
- Personalization is an important feature of banks. Hence, to convey the same — the empty states that have been designed are customized and personalized to a degree with the usage of characters.
- Diving deeper into the same, the characters that are designed are presented with an Indian appearance — to increase relatability with the native users.
- Transparency ensures a clean and safe banking environment that supports users. Hence, the empty states involved the use of a family to help create a personal connection with users.
- The self-service feature is conveyed through self-explanatory designs. The designs remain within the context of the message but are presented creatively. That is, they are not laterally connected and play the role of a metaphor. This is because it should be understandable to all.
To sum it up, Empty States are incredible opportunities to connect with users and ensure their engagement and retention. With the advancement of user experience and design, its time to be more and give more!