UX Myth #5: Dummy Data Is Enough For Wireframes

Although we as designers can always use those dummy data via some data generator for the wireframes and mockups, having accurate test data for better contextual awareness could immensely speed the process.


Welcome to the UX Myth blog series, where I debunk common design misunderstandings you keep hearing about in product meetings (and attempting to fix them).

Dummy vs. Test data

When people say dummy data, they often refer to a set of gibberish words that do not contain any valuable data but serve as a placeholder.

Designers usually resort to dummy data -- those Lorem Ipsum excerpts you see on websites and design templates -- whenever they’re unsure about information presented in the requirement (or lack thereof). Hoping that the actual content may (or may not) come later on in the process.

On the other hand, test data is fake information that creates context with where they’re placed, resulting in a more real-world production environment.

Finance Dashboard by Desemy Kristanto - https://dribbble.com/kdesemy

How Using Dummy Data Slows Down The Project

To paraphrase Luke Wroblewski, “Products with unrealistic assumptions result in serious design flaws.” Design decisions should be driven by the content it represents; the layout is then created to support that content’s presentation.

The main problem is the friction between the designer’s mind and what the stakeholder visualizes in their head. Sure, you could mitigate that by having both parties compare a comprehensive set of requirements; However, those requirements are hard to come by and rarely enough for everyone to have the same image in mind mutually. Often the wireframing stage using dummy data would result in a never-ending back-and-forth between stakeholders -- respectively wasted even more time and budget.

In preparations of these data, one would need only insights provided by stakeholders. E.g., What will these areas contain? What are the data received from our API? Are we considering the possibility of both happy and edge cases in these user journeys?

Bouncing discussions around the room for one quick workshop session could save everyone the ensued headache from preemptive miscommunication.


If all else fails, you have no choice but to use fake, dummy text. Try diving into your prior UX research or design reference -- develop any design decisions that could get you (and your stakeholders) started. Designers would generally have a basic idea for mockup contents based on their previous experience or their exposure to similar apps.

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Gavin Chiemsombat
I'm a full-time Product Designer (and a Front-end enthusiast) at OOZOU in Bangkok, Thailand

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