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In my settings page (above), I am currently using tabs to navigate between sections (Rake + tip, Hand rankings, Tiers...). For the insights section of the settings page, the only objective is to allow the users to show or hide the insights section of the app, which is shown in the pink box below.

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For the other tabs in settings, I have save buttons. I chose to use save buttons due to the idea that without them, users may be confused about whether or not their changes actually got saved, and if they haven't, what they need to do to save them. I used NN Group's Don’t Prioritize Efficiency Over Expectations to come to this conclusion.

Given that I have save buttons in other tabs, it seems to me that not having it for this tab would introduce confusion.

The screen looks really awkward to me, and I'm having trouble putting my finger on why, or on what I can do to improve it.

One option is to make things bigger and perhaps more centered, but, at least in this case, it would be inconsistent with the rest of the settings, and I presume that in many other situations it would also introduce inconsistency.

And now to make the question more generally applicable: what are some general guidelines one can use for situations like this, where there is very little content and tons of whitespace?

  • I would try to create a horizontal bar for such options and stick it on the bottom of the page. Makes it both consistent and always visible in case there will be lots of content. For the whitespace, I guess a message and image aiding the lack of content could do wonders. – Levano Feb 13 '18 at 7:42
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    What's in the other sections? Could you merge "insights" with another table and still have it make sense? Could you unpack all the settings into a single delineated page (something like the Google Chrome settings page)? Could you compact it all into an accordion or some other UI device? I'm not sure that the problem is this one page but could be the whole settings navigation model. – Andrew Martin Feb 13 '18 at 8:32
  • You might want to lose that button. It is a one-element form, you can just save the setting on change. – Ivan Venediktov Feb 13 '18 at 9:19
  • If your problem is white space, can't you just show the insight by default and have a "Hide Insights" option? – Devin Feb 13 '18 at 17:34
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    @AdamZemer - just because a task is important doesn't mean it needs to be achieved quickly. I have no idea what other settings you have or what use cases you have to consider but it's worth considering how much time the user will spend here over the lifetime of your product (I would be prepared to bet that it's relatively small) and, with that, how much cognitive load you want to put them through whenever they do visit this area.. You need to find what's right for the workflow and that may or may not be a single page, or tabs, or an accordion, or something that none of us have thought of yet! – Andrew Martin Feb 13 '18 at 19:00
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Firstly, I do not recommend placing a save button just to be consistent. You will confuse your users - functionality over aesthetics. You can keep consistency without having a save button on each page.

Secondly, you should rethink the use scenario. To give you a hint, don't you think that if a user clicks on the insights tab they will want to be shown the insights? Furthermore, if they want to hide the insights then might they just move to another tab?

I'd recommend removing the show/hide checkbox altogether. Or depending on how the content looks you could add the show/hide insights to another tab. Either way its not standard practice to have a tab with hidden content.

Edit: Have you thought about putting the show/hide insights on each page and having it a universal function rather than tucked away in a lonely settings tab? It could just be placed in the corner in the space which the insights would appear from.

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    +1 Your second paragraph is what I came here to say. The entire point of tabs is to selectively show/hide content, if you then hide the only content in the tab you are essentially duplicating the functionality the tabs are already providing. – DasBeasto Feb 13 '18 at 16:18
  • "Either way its not standard practice to have a tab with hidden content." I edited the OP to clarify. The checkbox is meant to show/hide a section on a different page, not to show/hide the insights tab on the settings page. I'm sorry for not explaining this clearly initially. As for having a save button, nngroup.com/articles/efficiency-vs-expectations argues that having a save button reduces confusion by making things very explicit. – Adam Zerner Feb 13 '18 at 17:10
  • Thanks for updating the question. In that case isn't it possible to group the show/hide insights function into another settings tab? – RobbyReindeer Feb 14 '18 at 7:50
  • I think so, but am not positive. See my comments to Refe’s answer ux.stackexchange.com/a/115811/39046 – Adam Zerner Feb 14 '18 at 18:27
  • Okay I edited my answer. – RobbyReindeer Feb 15 '18 at 7:34
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You might want to rethink your UI and place navigation on the left side of the screen, just to minimize the amount of space available, if you do not require it all in future. For the lack of data, it is considered good UX to inform user of that matter.

Examples:

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  • I edited the question to clarify. I'm not trying to show/hide the actual insights tab on the settings page, I'm trying to show/hide a particular section on a different page of the app. So at least for my use case, there is no use case of telling the user that no content is available. Although for the use case of telling the user that no content is available, I like your proposed solution. – Adam Zerner Feb 13 '18 at 17:52
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This looks like an Information Architecture issue, not a UI issue. I wonder if that Insights tab is even necessary, or if that setting can be absorbed into another tab?

If there's no easy place to put it, my advice would be to do a card sorting exercise. Take all of your settings and write them on notecards, then sort the notecards according to user task groupings. Reshuffle until you have useful settings groupings and there are your tabs. Chances are, you'll end up with something a lot like how you set up your navigation instinctively, but hopefully no orphan settings like you have here.

  • Yes, I could group the tabs in the settings into categories. Doing so has been on my todo list. – Adam Zerner Feb 13 '18 at 17:28
  • Although a downside I see in doing that, is that, right now users can scan the tabs to see what settings are available for them to configure, but by having only top level tabs, it would take more effort for users to click around and explore what settings are available for them to configure. – Adam Zerner Feb 13 '18 at 17:42

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