Just because there is no data to show does not mean there is no show.  In any experience, digital or physical, when there’s an audience in the house the show is always on.

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Two possible ways to handle no data.

The audience is doing lots of stuff all the time.  On digital devices they mostly are looking for and finding information.  Over and over and over.  They’re looking up their orders or favorites or trips or itineraries.

They’re awash in answers to their questions most of the time.  But not always.  Sometimes there legitimately isn’t any data for a query – a scenario called the empty or blank state by technical folks.  Someone may not have created any orders yet or set up any favorites.  Or the spam folder may be empty.

So what should we show in our digital spaces when there’s nothing to show?

Something.

We should take the opportunity to inform, guide and entertain.  Explain what’s happening and why there’s no data.  If appropriate, suggest the user create some data.  Or go somewhere else where there is data.

A human touch, engaging copy and good image can turn an unwelcoming void into a known and navigable space.  Do not leave someone high and dry when you could at a minimum say hello and assure them all is well.

Even when a search returns nothing, the show must go on.

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