If my product was a fairy tale

Photo by Hernan Sanchez via Unsplash

The UX community has been preaching for many years that the use of real content is key to better design, better communication and better products. I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes I only feel like this message never reached anyone outside UX.

If my product was a fairy tale it still sometimes would sound like this …

“Once upon a time, there were two users named testuser_01 and testuser_02. They lived with their superadmin in a little house at the edge of forest123. They were a happy family. One day their superadmin met a nice new user, the demoWIDOW2000. She was a lovely new user and he married her that year. testuser_01 and testuser_02 were so happy.”
From an early demo version of ”Hansel and Gretel” from the Brothers Grimm

My daughter would never accept a good night story like this!

Your product always tells a story

It’s not enough that a UX designer uses real content in the design phase.

You tell a story when you develop the product 
You tell a story when you test the product
You tell a story when you demo the product

So please use real content along the whole way.

You as a developer when you show me this cool new feature you just implemented. Show it to me with real content.

You as a tester when you present the results of your test cases. Present them with real content.

You as a product owner when you demo the result of a sprint to your colleagues. Demo with real content.

It’s not enough just to show that a new feature works. It’s important to show how it would feel like in real life and that can only be accomplished with real content.

I never want to see testuser_01 and testuser_02 again … never ever … they immediately kill any good story.

Everyone can do real content

Using real content is such a simple and inexpensive way to make a big difference. Just by using real names, real addresses, real photos, etc. your product will tell a better story, other people will understand quicker, communication will be faster and more precise, there will be less confusion, less questions to answer.

Everyone can take care of good content, you do not need to be an expert, you don’t need any special skills, it doesn’t matter if you are a developer or tester, if you are a rookie or an expert — everyone can start doing this immediately.

So let’s do it. Make a tiny effort and tell a good story.

And to all you UX folks out there, keep on preaching the real content story. It’s obvious to you but the mission is not yet accomplished.


What’s your story?

How do you convince people (especially outside UX) to use real content? How do you keep real content alive across the full product development cycle? I would love to hear your stories.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.