Product management tip – Make the most of your empty state
March 27, 2019
March 27, 2019
One of the challenges all product managers face is how to on board a customer with the least amount of hand holding and support as possible in order to really scale their business. One of the best ways to do this which is often overlooked is to make the most of the empty state within your product. This product management tip focuses on the screens within your product where you have data waiting to be filled or records waiting to show but nothing has been populated yet. Think results of a search before the search is run what the bottom grid looks like before you have a result. This is very valuable real estate yet often when we look at products, we are surprised to see empty space.
Here is a product management tip on ways to improve on boarding by maximizing your empty state throughout your product.
- Inform the users why the screen is empty. If the screen is a list screen of records based on information they add to your product, let them know that they have not added their first record yet and how to do it. Use the empty state of a list screen to empower the user to add their first record for the list. Teach them how to do it and why they should do it. Don’t leave a screen empty but instead always use that as a setup training opportunity. Have a great video about that section of your product? Show it during the empty state on how the process works once they populate it.
- Keep in mind there is a difference between first use and cleared state. In some cases, you may have an empty list because a filter is being applied or a search is run instead of no data has been added ever which is causing the empty state. You should prepare your empty state content accordingly because your call to action to move the user on and help them with next steps is specific to each scenario.
- Fill the blank canvas. Every product starts empty and for some products it may be difficult for a user to envision what it could look like full of their data. As a result, you can use options like populate with test data or place a screenshot of a populated sample list in the empty state to give a new user the ability to envision what your product would look like when they have it setup fully.
- Drive Next Steps. New users can get lost in a new product. The empty state should be driving them to their next action to keep them getting setup and adopting the product. You should be able to move them to through the setup steps using your empty state and keep prompting them with what to do to get the information loaded in. Information is good for empty state but direction is better.
- Build personality with empty states. A good opportunity for your brand to build out a little is your use of an empty state. Do you have a character or tone to your brand? Is your brand dry, fun or matter of fact? Use the empty state to build your brand and make yourself stand out by how you present the information for your user to take the next steps.
Often product managers focus on their on boarding process by creating setup wizards and guides to getting users up and running with their product. However many times, a user coming into a trial wants to just get at the product and click around to see if it will work for them. The empty state comes into play here where you can continue to train, educate and drive setup steps by showing what is next for a user to get setup and educate them on why they should using this product management tip.