Can anyone help me answer this question?

I have a set of search fields, whose results will populate a table.
As an initial state, should the table have a message saying "No results yet" or should the table not be visible at all?

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3 Answers 3


If the whole page is devoted to viewing query results, show a "no results" message or placeholder of some kind so that the user knows that the application is ready for a query. This will also help keep the page's layout more consistent so that executing a query is not as disorienting.

Without a placeholder or message, your page could have the appearance of being only partially rendered, potentially causing users to hesitate before attempting to interact with it.

  • Thanks, Max. I appreciate your response. My other question is, if it makes sense not to show the column headers at all, before the search button is clicked? Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 20:27
  • I'd probably go ahead and show them, especially if this part of your application is completely dedicated to searching. It'd give the user an opportunity to read through the headers and form an idea of what the data looks like before even initiating a search. My instinct would be that it'd provide a potential benefit without any significant drawbacks. Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 20:35
  • I like where your suggestion, Max. I had a similar impression. Thanks. Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 1:14

Arguments for showing neither the 'No results' message nor the table headings.

  • Both add visual noise (user have to look at it, figure out what it is only to learn they have to ignore it).
  • Isn't the journey a two step? First enter your search query, then analyse the results?
  • You don't get 'no search results' before hitting Enter on google.
  • Hi, Izhaki. Thanks. I hear you. I am searching for use cases for when the table headers don't show. Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 1:16

Perhaps you can try to avoid showing a message stating the table is empty (will affect the user's cognitive load).

And perhaps you can avoid to hide the table too (it will avoid to be a surprise when the table appears "magically" out of nowhere).

Try instead to show the table with some placeholder content in place of the actual content-to-be. I saw examples where a simple - (dash) used as a placeholder for content-to-be is a clear workaround to allow the user to see the table (now contentless, but not empty), and it's a hint of where to expect the content to be.

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