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I'm creating video tutorials for a project and I'm not sure if I should take the time to load the demo accounts with realistic-looking information.

I'm talking about phone numbers, addresses, business names.

Would the tutorials be better served by using "real looking" information?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would spend a little time trying to make the demo data look realistic.

I have taken shortcuts with examples before, thinking that they will get the gist of what I'm talking about. Each time there have been people who can't get past the data or example not being quite right.

This tends to interfere with their learning, and in the end takes up more time than coming up with a better example would have. If you are selling a product, it's possible that it could even have in impact on conversions.

Sometimes the little things like this can go a long way.

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Real-looking data serves the demo by not distracting the viewer. People often can't help notice stuff like 555-numbers; it steals their attention for a fraction of a second and distracts them from the message.

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The point of a demo account is to teach. If you have a choice between real (looking) data and fake data, simply ask yourself which one will help someone understand how to use your product or service better.

The answer is almost always to use data which is as close to what your customers will experience. It takes more effort and time to do this, but in the long run it saves you in support questions. Of course, it also gives you happier customers as they will most probably understand how to use the tool you are giving them better.

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