Designing Dummi

Aaron Benjamin
May 15, 2017 · 4 min read

Overview

Making up names, dates, times, email addresses, and cheesecake recipes is hard. I made Dummi to make generating and using placeholder data easier and more accessible for designers and developers.

The challenge

I needed to find a way to generate placeholder data in a way that was understandable and consumable by designers and the tools they already used.

  • Designers’ coding skills vary from none at all to very advanced
  • Different contexts need different types of data
  • Designers use various different design tools for drawing and prototyping

Goals

I set two types of goals:

What’s the best thing that could happen?

  • Designers and developers will use Dummi to fill their mock ups and prototypes with beautifully crafted placeholder data.
  • Chris Coyier will tweet about it.

What’s the worst thing that could happen?

  • Dummi doesn’t offer enough variety and flexibility to be useful
  • @therealdonaldtrump will tweet about it

When things got GUI…

Note: Dummi was called Feed.me before I realized the domain was taken.

In review with peer designers, I got some great feedback on the first iteration. It sounded something like this:

  • Pink.
  • Pink?
  • Pink!

So… I toned things back a bit.

This version was coded and released as v1. (Big thanks to Marc Mueller & Timo for helping make things AWESOME. ) Then came the tweets:

  • Definitely, I will use this a lot. Great work.
  • Data ideas….Company/Customer names, blog posts, tasks, file names (w types and edit dates), products for e-commerce
  • Did anyone ask for years, dates, months, days, e-commerce and business categories, cities, countries, languages, timezones…is that more options and not data?
  • Awesome service. Definitely one I’ll be using on my current project. Nice one.
  • Excited for the url feature. Will be really useful 😀
  • Custom key names?
  • What if I could name my keys?
  • Why can’t I edit the value names?

Listen & Learn

With feedback rolling in from twitter, email, and people walking over to my desk at work, it was time to get to work on the next version. We knew we needed to:

  • Make key names editable
  • Make some updates to the UI
  • Update labels to be more clear
  • Expand the types of data offered
  • Make Dummi mobile friendly (because, why not?)
  • Find a way to make the data look friendlier before converting it to the output format

Version 2

After a few months in the wild, feedback continued to roll in and I continued to make note of what our growing audience needed.

In this update, I…

  • Made the table design a bit easier to read
  • Adjusted the control panel to better fit how people were using it
  • Updated the labels to reflect user’s vocabulary
  • Stretched the UI to fill the screen
  • Made the mobile version easier to use
  • Refined the edit/delete controls
  • Added more types of data to choose from

What’s next

Images

Imagery is a big part of design. Our users have expressed interest in product images, movie posters, book covers, album art, splash screens, cat memes, gifs, and grey boxes.

Feed hosting

As of now, users can download their data in JSON or CSV format. In addition to adding new data types, we want users to be able to save their feeds and access them using design tools or from an API.

Inline Editing

To build a better relationship with the selected attributes and the output, Dummi will allow users to make selections and adjust settings in the context of the data structure.

API

Users will be able to use an API to consume Dummi Data.

Stay tuned for more soon!

Aaron Benjamin

Written by

All of these thoughts, views, and opinions are my own…until you share them.

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