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There's a related question here from June 2014. Notice that Material Design was presented to public also at June 2014.

I've been looking the mainstream mobile apps behavior when the user makes a pull-to-refresh gesture, in order to refresh a list content.

I think it's frustrating for the user to make this gesture expecting new data to come, but there's no new data available and no positive feedback about it.

Presenting a feedback when there's no data is a bad practice? Are there any apps that give a positive feedback in this situation, or any feedback at all?


  • Material design swipe-to-refresh guidelines do not cite this topic.
  • Facebook app, both on notifications screen and on groups, do not provide any feedback when there's no fresh content.
  • Twitter does the same on tweet Lists. However, when pulling to refresh on the User screen, it does a automatic scroll-down, so it kind of works as a positive feedback.

I would prefer an approach that displays a visual text for the user, with a positive message.

  • On Github, when the notification list is empty, the text "All caught up!" is shown.
  • On Slack, when the notification list is empty, the text "All unread were read. Congratulations!" is shown.

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Presenting a feedback when there's no data is a bad practice?

No. The user just asked you something ("is there anything new?") and an answer of some sort would be expected ("You're up to date already!").

That said:

  • In some cases it makes sense to update continuously (eg chat apps)
  • In some cases it makes sense to notify when updates are available ("this page has changed since you started reading it, refresh?"), in which case you don't need to display it.
  • In some cases it may make sense to change the content source on refresh (mostly done in the context of algorithmic content feeds)

More generally: Design guidelines are only a starting framework meant to give you an easy to use starting point to get some version of an app running. You are free to build upon it, or even break the guidelines when you have an idea to make it work better in your special case.

If you're unsure whether something is beneficial or annoying to your users in particular, you can always user test!

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