An empty state message appears after someone has completed a task or workflow, or has cleared all data associated with certain functionality. For example, clearing their inbox. These messages are a way to celebrate, add energy, and motivate people to get on with their next task.
Empty states can appear within a particular functionality or as a full-screen message. When crafting an empty state message, remember that most people scan text instead of reading everything. Make every word count and avoid irrelevant details.
Include an informative, scannable title. Try and limit the number of words as much as possible.
Titles are a good place to add wink if it’s appropriate.
Write in sentence case and don’t use punctuation unless it's a question.
Use the heading to describe the empty state or as an opportunity to tell people what they can do.
Include the reason for the empty state and where they can go next. If there is nothing for them to do, celebrate finishing a task.
Avoid repeating content from the title.
Keep messages one to two sentences long. Be considerate of people's time and patience. Be short and to the point, and avoid using jargon.
Avoid having people look in another location for more information, but if it cant' be avoided, use a “Learn more” link.
When offering an action to perform after an empty state, use imperative verbs such as “Try”, “Remove” or “Create”, in the CTA to describe what action people will be making instead of vague terms such as “OK”.
An option to dismiss or cancel lets people feel reassured that they can opt-out.
Limit your CTA to one or two words.
Your CTA button should always complement the title of the empty state.
Empty states are an excellent opportunity to encourage people to interact further with our products. While optional they’re a good way to educate people about where they can go next or motivate them to explore.
Be careful of how many call to action buttons are on one page. You don’t want to overwhelm people with too many options.
You want to leave people feeling motivated, supported, and delighted. Convey accurate emotions and make sure people know how to respond. Follow some of the following Atlassian Voice and Tone principles to build your message:
Completing a task makes people feel ambitious, inspired, curious. Provide people with the incentive and excitement for continued growth in our products.
Show the possibilities of what can be accomplished by presenting the them with next steps, or offer opportunities for advanced knowledge is always better than leaving people at a dead end.
We’re celebrating the success or progress of completing a task. Write to convey excitement. You are giving a pat on the back for a job well done.
But remember not to overdo it. Timing and repetition are critical. Messages that appear more frequently should be more concise and have less 'wink', for example clearing notifications. If messages are appearing repeatedly, consider multiple versions if you want to add a wink. These are low commitment experiences, we want to give flowers not puppies.
Messages that appear after a bigger, optimistic action can be more playful, for example, a modal dialog. Remember that depending on the component you use, illustrations can also help to add a wink to your message.
If an empty state has more than one potential cause or solution, try one of the following writing strategies.
An empty state lets people know when they’ve completed or have cleared a task(s). By contrast, a blank slate is a type of message in which people have never come across or tried a new feature before. Blank slates promote and encourage users to try something new.
Use text, design elements, and visual clues to differentiate where people are in their journeys.