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Why is this in Spanish?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet… This familiar pseudo-Latin often marks the beginning of a larger block of placeholder gibberish. Dolorem ipsum, the source of the first two words is Latin for ‘pain itself’, and when testing a prototype that’s often what this placeholder text can feel like.

While placeholders are a useful tool during the design process, by the time things have progressed into something to put in front of Users, it’s time for the lorem ipsum to go. When there is text in a prototype that’s in an unfamiliar language (or a garbled version of an unfamiliar language) it’s distracting to Users, and results in comments like the title of this blog. If Users are talking about the placeholder, they’re not providing feedback on the questions of interest (not to mention the awkwardness of responding to “Why is this in Spanish?”).

There’s little if any downside to putting in relevant copy. It’s true that it does take more time to generate copy instead of pasting in lorem ipsum or that writing copy may be ‘someone else’s job’. On the flip side, with relevant copy, the worst that can happen is that Users overlook it. More likely though is that Users will be able to provide feedback about the copy that can improve the final version of it. Even if it’s not ‘professionally done’, learning what may confuse Users, what tone they find appropriate or inappropriate, what topics they expected to be addressed in a particular body of copy, etc. is all valuable feedback that can be used to polish the final product.

At User Insight we work hard to ensure our clients get the information they need from User testing. A better prototype means a better opportunity for us to provide that information, and leaving out the placeholder text is an easy win for prototype fidelity. An added benefit of leveraging User Insight’s talented User Experience Architects for prototyping is that we have seen dozens of examples like this that can alter the outcome of testing.  So when we prototype, we make sure to optimize the prototype to get the most out of Users.  Lorem ipsum does have its place, but that place isn’t in front of Users during testing.

Image attribution:

Lorem Bokeh 1” by Blake Burkhart is licensed under CC BY 2.0