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I am having a difference of opinion... with myself.

My web application has a section for an order preview. The user can select a specific order and some statistics of this order will be visible in the preview section. The order stay in this section until the user selects another order to preview.

The next (and last) section is for a table of orders.

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So, my issue is about what to show the first time users enter the application. One part of me wants the layout to be clean, and if it is empty it should be clear that in actually is empty

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But some part of me want to show the user what it could look like

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What do you think the users prefer? A informative message with dummy data in the background or a clean background?

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    Stay away from showing dummy charts and text. Why show something when it's not available. It will only cause confusion. Instead, show "there are no orders" and potentially add a "shop now" or some CTA to have them to start shopping. – Majo0od Sep 15 '16 at 13:44
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Contrary to the comment made above, including a watermarked image of dummy data is a neat, visual way to convey the purpose and functionality of this section.

As long as it is very clear that it is a preview, and cannot be mistaken for real data, this is the better choice. Greyscale, fading the image into the background, and overlaying information text should achieve this.

The example text says "no order selected for preview" though. This implies the user simply hasn't selected an order yet.

If the user has no orders, then perhaps a more relevant message (and/or hyperlink) could be included to set them on the right track:

You have no orders yet! Search our catalogue to get started

Or messaging to explain the purpose of the area:

Here you can track the status of your placed orders

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I would take a nod from the gaming industry...displaying related content, tips, resources, and how to's is always helpful, but require additional design and dev time.

That said, if the experience is making deep database calls, it may be worth the spend.

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