Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Making up Emails for Mockups

When mocking up communications software, you have to make stuff up: You want to show a realistic inbox, messages that seem real, and clearly illustrate the use case you’re trying to support. Mockups help others grasp what you're building, and they help get you rolling on the prototype.



Photoshop and Corel Draw are my friends, and it's easy to find design inspiration on the web.

But how do you come up with the data? Some ideas:
  1. Use your own email. Duh. Sounds reasonable. But you don't want your confidential emails in your business plan. The girlfriend might not appreciate the shoutout. And startup founders’ emails do not represent a common use case.

  2. Enron Corpus. This is good for business scenarios, with some small problems: No attachments, no sender names (although you can make them up), and the depressing emails towards the end of the company: "Dear top management, please don't fire us now!". Use the Trampoline Enron Explorer to get to the data.

  3. Celebrities. Great for consumer email scenarios. My friends at Google used to mock me for including Natalie Portman in most mocks, but People Magazine is your friend: Just use your personal email and add celebrity names. Added benefit: If you choose the right celebrities, that will trigger positive emotions with people looking at the mocks.

If you have a more ideas, let me know.

3 comments:

Roman said...

... btw, have you seen this?

http://www.theonion.com/content/news_in_photos/inside_obamas_emails

I'd add some humor to a mockup.

Waseem Sadiq said...

What we were planning to do but never ended up doing, was to use transcripts from the simpsons episodes (which can be found here and there on the internet) as input for fake conversations ;)

Felipe Costa said...

Create an account and subscribe public active mailing lists. Better points if mailing list topic is interesting.

In 2 months you will have an inbox completely overload even with SPAM.

My 2 cents,
Felipe Ávila da Costa