Fake Data to See if Anyone’s Paying Attention

When putting together a prototype for usability testing, it’s best to use realistic data. If you’re evaluating the readability of a search results screen, put in the actual results. If you’re evaluating a check-out process, make all the information throughout the entire process real.

Then, after, tweak the data just slightly. Make it humorous, make it unrealistic, throw in a knock-knock joke.

I’m a big fan of this. It’s an excellent way to find out what people pay attention to and what they completely disregard.

In his post, Amazon’s Time Machine, Seth Godin ponders:

“Why don’t they slip in ridiculous items or funny descriptions? It’s not like they’re going to run out of shelf space or have a problem with inventory.”

It’s an interesting question. Ridiculous items or funny will polarize customers. Some will love it, some will hate it. It’s a big company that can walk away from disenfranchised customers.