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Populate prototype with realistic content - part 2, dummy content

Populate prototype with realistic content - part 2, dummy content

Populating UIs with realistic data can be a pain in the ass. But it's worth it because we don't distract participants from their tasks and don't confuse them for no reason.

Dummy content, aka lorem ipsum

First of all, content makes or breaks usability. Testing designs with dummy content would miss out on so many insights.

Some Designers would postpone writing content until hi-fi designs. But in many cases writing the content is not so much of an effort that it should be postponed.

Secondly, Lorem Ipsum is like an insider joke. It's placeholder text that should be ignored. UX people know this, Devs know this, Product Managers know this. But participants don't. For them, it seems like real Latin content. I have seen many participants go... "This seems like Latin... let's see... I remember from high school that 'dolor' is pain... is this some medical information for doctors?"

Some UXDs prefer to use the version that is not Lorem Ipsum but its explanation:

"Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book."

This is not an improvement, because now participants are thinking "Ok, what are they trying to tell me about printing?"

It just derails the participant's natural thinking.

What to use instead of lorem ipsum? You can't use "xxxxxxx", can't use "...." or any other placeholder because participants would try to make sense of it. The only option is to use real content.

But you don't need to write the content yourself. You can just borrow it from anywhere on the internet. If you are designing a news site, try the layout with an article written by someone else. If you are designing a webshop, try using some product images and descriptions from other webshops.