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I'm currently working on a stock exchange site and I'm having a dilemma. Some financial instruments (Funds) have other properties than normal shares. However, there are some troubles with the data provider and for the time being most of the extra Fund-information won't be available for now.

The dilemma is as follows. Should I display placeholders, so visitors can get used to page and it's (anticipated) content. Or should I consider the placeholders visual clutter and remove the extra fields all together until the data is there?

The image below shows the information I currently don't have (the yellow box): enter image description here

  • An image wil be very useful to get a better perspective. – Alejandro Veltri Nov 4 '14 at 15:22
  • So some data will be available, just not all of it? What's the ratio of available to not-available? – dennislees Nov 4 '14 at 15:34
  • I added a sketch to make thing more clear. – Ruudt Nov 4 '14 at 15:55
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If the data that will be available is truly 'meta' and not essential to the use of the app, then, for the sake of clarity, leave it out. Providing placeholder or partial data is unlikely to positively affect the experience.

When there's enough data available to be useful to the user, introduce the UI component.

Regarding your concern that the user may become conditioned to not having the feature, when you do add it back, use a conspicuous alert on the page, or better yet, use a guided tour feature (as has become common with web apps) to highlight the feature and provide some information about its use.

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Anticipated content is not useful content (unless you expect the user to stay and refresh the page in case the content becomes available). Not knowing how big the space this unavailable data occupies (and assuming the worst that its significantly large), it may take up space that could inhibit the other data from being seen right away (i.e. content being pushed down).

If seeing this extra fund information is important enough for the user's activity on that page, it might be wise to explicitly state its unavailability instead of just not showing it. And if there's a means of retrieving the data through additional user interaction (i.e. links), I would consider giving it to them if that means they can accomplish the activity that this extra fund info would have provided them.

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I've seen placeholders on a site before and it was extremely confusing and frustrating. I kept attempting to use the boxes and fields I saw even though it was clearly labeled Example data. It provided me no benefit to see what features would be available in the future because it only served to confuse me as to why I couldn't use them now, and I was actually less likely to come back to the site because I had a bad experience with it the first time.

If you want to inform the user that a particular feature will be available in the future, I would provide them with a simple line of text that explains,

Fund information panel coming soon!

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