Design Patterns – Zero results page, a fresh restart for a great User eXperience

How can we help users to restart their journey from the Zero results page (aka ZRP)? Like in “real life”, it’s not so easy to find what we’re looking for. When we get lost and/or perform wrong actions, it’s common to have the “dead spot” syndrome.


Providing such page without a well-designed UX and a clear set of strategies means losing customers and revenues. Sometimes we underestimate that; in fact, during the search experience on an e-commerce platform, is very easy to land on a useless ZRP. This page can be frustrating and boring for the user. We started this project with one main goal, e.g. to decrease the dropout rate caused by the ZRP.

Here there are some examples from my benchmark. We are not saying that these are best and/or bad examples, what we want to highlight that there are several options to deal with this topic. As usual when we start a project we like to watch and analyze what is already implemented.

Why does the user land on a ZRP?

Because user journey is not designed to avoid and/or reduce some user cases.
For example:

  • He/she dials wrong keywords, for instance “ipone” instead “iPhone”;
  • He/she provides a query that’s very complex, for instance “iPhone 5s black new without SIM lock”;
  • He/she is coming from the categories browsing path all the way to the final category without a result;
  • He/she is applying too many filters;
  • He/she is looking for a product that has ran out;

What are the user needs in a ZRP

  • The user should easily understand where he/she is.
    It’s important provide the right infos in terms of page title and a clear message to explain why the system is not able to find anything;
  • Do not provide a dead spot.
    Help the user to start a new search session and/or to follow instructions to refine a better search;
  • Push consistent content.
    Avoid pushing content that is not fitting the user needs. Try to provide content that fits user data. The user is already frustrated, so it makes no sense to provide him/her with useless content;
  • Deliver friendly feature to manage the search experience.
    Sometimes the ZRP is about the temporary items unavailability. Give the user the chance to save the search in his/her profile (or cookies) and update him/her about changes.

What bunch of tools should we provide to support the user to restart the search experience?

We have to design the right exit strategy for each scenario.

  1. Wrong keyword
    In the ZRP we should provide a clear sentence that is indicating the wrong words. It’s important to display the best match between what the user is looking for and what is available on the platform;
  2. Complex query
    In this scenario, it’s important to simplify the query and provide a clear information set about what we did. Providing objects that can have a good level of consistency with the initial one can engage the user and convince him/her to start a new buyer experience;
  3. Deep categories browsing
    This user case needs to be solved in the fastest possible way to be sure that the user can understand the reason why he/she landed in the ZRP. A simple message about the deepness of category level can be the solution. Showing the results for the parent and/or the main category can be more engaging for him;
  4. Too many filters
    More or less is like the previous point. We need to support the user explaining to him/her why we’re not able to find what he/she is looking for. We need to help him/her to simplify and/or recover the search flow. Showing the results for other filters (ex. colors) can encourage him/her to try new solution;
  5. Product unavailability
    In this scenario we need to exploit the advantage of the UX. Providing a simple way to build a reminder process. With this solution we’re facing user needs and we’re also saving data that can help us to display more consistent content for the next experiences;


As you can imagine the scenario is complex and this bunch of tools cannot be the final solution. We strongly believe that, as usual, the best way to communicate with our users is to be honest and clear. Learning from the mistakes and the difficulties is a great way to build empathy with our users. The ZRP is part of the user journey and can be an important spot to convert our business KPIs.

Here you can find the wireframe for this project:

If you want to go deeper in this topic, please, write a comment and I will be happy to reply to it.

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