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Populate prototype with realistic content - part 3, unrealistic data

Populate prototype with realistic content - part 3, unrealistic data

Unrealistic data can easily derail our participant's thinking, wasting precious minutes from a usability session.

Unrealistic data

Dashboards, charts, and tables tend to fall into this trap. Examples include:

  • lack of irregularity and randomness: e.g. the webshop had exactly 153.342 visitors every single day for the last 30 days.
  • chart y-axis has an unrealistic interval: e.g. showing that the webshop's traffic is between 0 to 20 visitors a day.
  • unreal KPIs: e.g. a call-center agent has 100 calls/minute on average.

When test participants notice such outlandish data they don't think that

"Oh, the Designer just didn't have the time to come up with 30 distinct numbers, that's why it is 153.342 everywhere"

but they take it as real:

"Wait.. why is it the same number again and again. I guess the webshop backend must be broken... that's why this data is not refreshing..."

Of course, if this is a moderated test, the UX Researcher can jump in and say, "Oh, that's just dummy data, don't care about it." But from that point on the participant would consider anything that doesn't make sense for her "dummy data" and she won't even make the effort to understand it anymore. There goes our well-crafted usability test out the window.