Blank slate invitations (a term taken from the book Designing Web Interfaces) are inline invitations/instructions on how to interact with the UI - primarily aimed at novice users. That is, e.g., when no data are yet added, the data-presenting controls of the UI accommodate these instructional overlays. An example could be the text "drag items here" on a blank list of items.

What are your practical experiences with blank slate invitations? Do you have any good examples on how to/not to do it. What are best practices?

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I have seen a couple of good ones - Things for Mac, Basecamp & Facebook.

There is also one good article written by Jason/DHH from 37signals - The Blank Slate - Set expectations with a thoughtful first-run experience.

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