Populate prototype with realistic content - part 6, empty demo accounts
Realistic content is not only for prototypes - it's for live systems too.
The best is if we do the usability test with the participant's device and user account. That account is already populated with real data. And it's data that the user is already familiar with.
That said, we may not want to test an unreleased beta feature in a production account. Or the participants may not want us inside their accounts.
So we can test with demo accounts or accounts that we specifically opened for testing.
Empty demo accounts
Unfortunately, these accounts tend to be empty. So we need to populate them with realistic data. Just to ensure that the participants' experience closely resembles that of real users.
When I tested a calendar app, I populated the test account with 20-30 realistically looking events, e.g. client meetings, team meetings, monthly report meetings, visiting the gym, etc... Although these weren't directly related to any of the test tasks, they made them more realistic. For example when I asked my participant to reschedule one of her meetings, she had to watch out for potential event collisions. Had I given her an empty calendar, collisions wouldn't have been a concern.