Lorem Ipsum is Killing Your Designs

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Click here to go straight to the rebuttal:
In Defense of the King (Content)1

By now you should have heard the meme that content is king; you’ve probably heard it frequently, in fact. This is because there is a remarkable amount of truth behind it. The copy, images, video and other miscellaneous content are the reason that your visitors are both going to and remaining on your site. Sites like Craigslist2 prove this to us time and again.

Design should be the extra layer, therefore adding to the experience that helps visitors locate wanted information, read said information, or simply accomplish a task. The very second you make the decision to place Lorem Ipsum into your mock-ups, you have done a great disservice to your design, content, website and users.

"By adding Lorem Ipsum to the design you are essentially dressing your king before you know his size."

The problems will eventually have a domino effect on your site, sometimes without your awareness.

The Obvious and Usual Suspects

Jibberish Text3

What are some of the bad things that have happened because of Lorem Ipsum?

  1. Lorem Ipsum has distracted clients from design mock-ups for decades, leading them to ask countless questions on why their site if filled with an unknown, foreign language.
  2. It has often created confusion between the designer, developer and the copywriter or content provider.
  3. It even gets pushed live sometimes without anyone noticing.

Just Another Visual Element

When you are designing with Lorem Ipsum, you diminish the importance of the copy by lowering it to the same level as any other visual element. The text simply becomes another supporting role, serving to make other aspects more aesthetic. Instead of your design enhancing the meaning of the content, your content is enhancing your design.

Here’s a sample of the dreaded Lorem Ipsum:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer eu enim et eros posuere consequat id in libero. Aliquam pellentesque pulvinar aliquet. Curabitur sollicitudin sagittis consequat. In lobortis semper lacus et aliquet. Morbi luctus, tellus et imperdiet iaculis, ante eros sodales leo, in rutrum odio nunc at mi. Donec ac risus eu lorem vehicula sodales lacinia tempor ipsum. Curabitur sit amet quam leo. Donec faucibus posuere libero, a tincidunt elit auctor vitae. Vestibulum sed dui at erat lobortis sagittis a nec purus. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Etiam ultrices lacus ante.

Tailored to Fit?

No Lorem Ipsum

The person writing the content then gets lead down a dangerous path; they begin to write according to what has been laid out with Lorem Ipsum in the design. They effortlessly continue for paragraphs on matters that could easily be simplified into a single sentence. Content could be added that simply doesn’t need to be there.

 

Putting the Right Foot Forward

In an ideal situation, you would be working with a content specialist from the very beginning. Let’s face it, this doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should. Instead, the client is writing the copy for the website and it gets handed to you just before launch.

It’s time to reverse that thinking; you should be receiving and discussing the content even before the commencement of the design. When you are hired for the job, make it known to the client that you need the copy up-front and list the reasons why.

Still having problems? Write your own copy. Seriously, do it. This way when it comes to finalizing both the copy and the interaction, the copywriter will have an understanding of the point you were trying to make.

Kill Lorem

Now stand up. Put your left hand on your Mac or PC and the right one in the air and say:

"I, [your name here] vow to never use Lorem Ipsum in my designs ever again."

In Defense of the King (Content)

Defense of the Content

Thanks everyone for your input and arguments against. You’ve brought up some great points. It really crazy to think that fake Greek text is so controversial. That said, here is my rebuttal to some of the main points that have been brought up against my article.

The Title

Defense 1

The title is a bit extreme and was written to grab your attention. Lorem Ipsum will not kill your site design. What it does is it takes away some of the ability to provide the best possible solution for your design problem. You can of course still create great, beautiful, awesome designs with lorem ipsum but it takes away resources to solve your problem.

Change

Defense 2

I realize that this would not be an easy change both for you and for your clients. I am essentially suggesting you fix something that doesn’t seem broken. Just because using Lorem Ipsum is easy and it fits smoothly into your current process doesn’t make it right.

Having Final Copy

Defense 3

In no way should you have nor do you need final copy. First rough drafts work. It gives the designer and idea of what needs to be communicated. Once it is in the design or in code doesn’t make it final. Your copy should be a living working document that is continually changing along with your design.

If the copy becomes distracting in the design then you are doing something wrong or they are discussing copy changes. It might be a bit annoying but you could tell them that that discussion would be best suited for another time. At worst the discussion is at least working towards the final goal of your site where questions about lorem ipsum don’t.

Lorem Ipsum as a Tool

Defense 4

Lorem ipsum is more of a work around than a tool. It allows for your clients to be lazy and for you to have to deal with fake text. It’s only a tool because we HAVE to use it unlike other graphical tools like grids that enhance the design.

Dealing with Clients

Defense 5

I clearly didn’t cover this enough, That is my fault. I’ve found that when you describe your process up-front and tell them that you need at least an early draft of the copy, most clients are okay with that. I explain to them that through this process, they will get a better overall product. If they’re not okay with that, well, I have the luxury of ditching them. I would rather spend my time looking for clients that will work with me instead of against me, wasting my time fighting for a good product.

Writing Your Own Copy

Defense 6

I almost removed this part before sending the article over because it has the potential to be very dangerous. I probably should have. It has been one of the ways that I have gotten around the client issue for headlines and sub-copy. I understand that we are trying to put food on the table and writing considerable amounts of body copy would be unreasonable. I also realize you are relying on your designer to know how to write, at least a very little bit, and that can be scary.

The point I tried to make is that you and your clients need to be thinking, understanding and gathering content before the design. Using Lorem Ipsum is a way to half-heartedly go about the most important part of your site.

Its been used in the print world for decades because they know exactly how many characters they can put on the page. Magazine or newspaper designers get early drafts of articles or at least a synopsis of the article before they start there work. I am suggesting you get the same.

The bottom line is design is an enhancement to your content. Nothing more. If you have an awesome design but junky content then no one will buy, use, read, or interact with it. This is the problem with a ton of Flash sites out there. If you have awesome content, users will find a way to work with the design (**Ehem** Craiglist4).

For those looking for extracurricular reading:

What are your thought about Lorem Ipsum? Do you think as designers, we should eliminate its use, or do you think that Lorem Ipsum still has its place in our design mock-ups? Have you had any unfortunate incidents that have happened with clients because you used Lorem Ipsum? We would love to hear what you say about it, so please do leave a comment below. Thank you for reading the article and we hope that you will share your opinion with us and to the rest of the design community.

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://designinformer.com/2010/lorem-ipsum-killing-designs/#defense
  2. 2 http://www.craigslist.org/
  3. 3 http://elegantmisreader.deviantart.com/art/Tablet-Test-Lorem-Ipsum-78068341
  4. 4 http://www.craigslist.org
  5. 5 http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/essays/archives/000959.php
  6. 6 http://37signals.com/svn/archives/001083.php
  7. 7 http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/representing_content_and_data_in_wireframes_special_deliverable_10

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Kyle is a designer, front-end developer and part time astronaut. He is a good listener and loves to play in the snow. He also has red hair. Be sure to visit his blog at kylefiedler.com where he designs, writes and plays or say hi to him on Twitter.

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  1. 1

    Totally true. I’m not using lipsum since october 2009 when i changed the text of a project and saw a BIG difference. Awesome article!

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  2. 3

    I disagree. You’re presenting a design, not a full working website with content. At that point, the client just don’t need to look at that. Just be clear that you want their opinion about how it looks.

    If a developer has made something working, but the design isn’t ready, the client doesn’t need to judge the looks. If a copywriter wrote some text it might be in another font than the actual site. And if a photographer made photos for the website, it might be cropped after he/she shows them to the client.

    Just be clear about all those things. In the end it will all come together. With good project management and communication to the client (and within the team!) that won’t be a problem.

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    • 4

      I agree with Tom.

      Not all the clients have the content ready with them. Clients give you an idea about their product and ask you for the design first.

      Also, as a designer, I am entirely focused on how the website should look. It would be extremely tough for me to make content for every project that I am handling. This would waste a lot of my time.

      Till date, I have not faced any problem with Lorem Ipsum. As Tom said above, “With good project management and communication to the client (and within the team!) that won’t be a problem.”

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      • 5

        @Jad
        “This is true. While we can say communication is key and it won’t be a problem, the fact of the matter is: It has and will continue to happen.”

        Yep but with (real) content there’s a big chance you’ll end up in an endless discussion about that content on that page.

        With bigger projects you have to work in stages. The next thing is a interaction designer that want to show his prototypes in a real design instead of wireframe? Finally you’ll end up showing a full working website in the first stage of the project. That’s why I say.. it’s more important to have a good project management and make things clear to your client :)

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    • 6

      Tom, I just want to thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment on the article.

      It’s okay to disagree and I want to thank you for expressing your thoughts. You do bring up some valid arguments. I guess with valid communication, it definitely won’t be a problem, but I do see the validity in Kyle’s article, maybe he was just a little too extreme about it. ;)

      Hello Adit, thanks for sharing your opinion.

      It would be extremely tough for me to make content for every project that I am handling. This would waste a lot of my time.

      Yes, while it is tough to create content, it is always good to have the content available that you will be using for the site.

      This article really has some great points that need to be discussed. Here is my take on the entire article.

      I think Kyle’s article is really well-written. There are a lot of points that he mentions that deserves to be considered when designing our websites.

      “Lorem Ipsum has distracted clients from design mock-ups.”

      This is true. While we can say communication is key and it won’t be a problem, the fact of the matter is: It has and will continue to happen.

      Another issue that I see is that often, useless copy will be written to keep the site balanced.

      Example:
      let’s say we designed the middle area of our site to have 3 columns. Then we decided to write the content for each column. Because the 1st two columns had more content than column 3, we decide that we need to write more content for column 3.

      This has been the case with so many different designs. I personally have done this myself.

      I do think however, that the type of site should be taken into consideration as well. For example, if you were designing a blog, you can’t have all of your content ready, and in that case, you would need to use Lorem Ipsum or a previously written article. Unless you are Jason Santa Maria or Kyle Fiedler. If you notice, Kyle’s blog posts have completely unique designs. You can tell that he practices what he preaches.

      Anyway, that’s just my opinion on this. While I don’t completely agree with everything Kyle says, I think that it’s good to discuss these things. :)

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      • 7

        I agree that it really depends upon the kind of website you are working on.

        I have absolutely no problems if I get the content beforehand. This is infact an ideal situation wherein you have the content and you just focus your thoughts on designing. Moreover, this could add more value to your design. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Hence, it’s not possible to completely abandon using Lorem Ipsum.

        I hope my clients read this article and give me the content beforehand. That would make my work easy! :)

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    • 8

      Yes, you need good communication to make a website with a team of people and the client. Getting the copy is part of that communication, right? Why not get it before you start deigning? This won’t interrupt your team’s work flow too much and you will produce designs tailored to fit the content created for the site.
      When you start design a site with only the slightest idea of what the content is you start to make the design a more important part of the web site than the content. Some even argue that without content its not really designing.

      “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” Jeffrey Zeldman

      “Without the content, you’re just making stuff up. That is not design. Call it decorating or guessing, but don’t call it design.” Andy Rutledge

      I am not saying that you should be presenting a fully formed site but merely altering the thinking and process of building a web site (or any other design for that matter). Of course there is a problem with getting your client to do some upfront work.

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      • 9

        “When you start design a site with only the slightest idea of what the content is you start to make the design a more important part of the web site than the content.”

        In alot of cases I dont think this makes a difference. The design should be able to handle any ammount of content and since content often changes I think not designing around content is a better way to work.

        Long live Lorem Ipsum, if clients are confused send them over to http://www.lipsum.com/

        Cheers Jad, thanks for the article.

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      • 10

        Kyle

        Those are some great supporting material that definitely backs you up. We all know that Jeffrey Zeldman and Andy Rutledge definitely know what they are talking about. :)

        Let the debate rage on!

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      • 11

        Kyle you have completely missed what Andy Rutledge was trying to portray.

        “Where is the content?”
        “What content will be on this page …and on this page?”
        “Who is writing the content?”
        “When will you deliver the content?”

        One obviously cannot design a website without knowing what’s going to be in a website. Each page should be designed according to its content ONLY to a certain extent. That’s when Lorem Ipsum comes to play. If you don’t agree, try designing a page like Ebay without dummy text. It’s not the same case for every design, but to say that dummy text such as Lorem Ipsum should be completely abandoned is completely absurd. Thanks (I know this topic is quite old but I figured I would put in my 2 cents).

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      • 12

        Great article, but I agree with Tom & Adit.

        Design & content work hand in hand & so I always design with content in mind. I do use Lorem Ipsum & am a big fan of it. Most of my clients do not have all the content ready to go at the start & I don’t demand it either. Let’s face it, when you run your own business, not everything falls into place as it should.

        If my clients were big budget clients, who could afford a copywriter, photographer, designer etc etc then it would be different, the website could be co-ordinated & managed ideally to suit each process.

        So I use Lorem Ipsum & explain to the client when the mock ups are initially presented that it is a representation of where & how the content (when supplied) will be inserted. In a perfect world, I would love to have both content & design basically completed when presenting to the client for the first time, but most of the time, it just doesn’t work that way.

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    • 13

      I’m with Tom on this. There was a similar post on lukew.com stating Lorum Ipsum is dead ( http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?927 ) Both assume serious ignorance by the parties involved. Many of the “issues” that may or may not exist can be avoided by good communication up front.

      I also feel the post assumes there is data or copy to begin with, when in some cases content hasn’t been created. However, if the necessary data and or copy exists, it would only make sense to design and build the prototype with it in place. This would provide a closer “real world” picture of what the final product will be. Keep in mind, the intended purpose for using Lorum is to help simulate full content. Often the client is unable to visualize what copy would look like in a space. So it’s use acts as a visual aid.

      Another assumption made is that the data is dynamic (Tailored to Fit?) which also is not always the case. Again,this is the type of information that should be communicated and in the requirements. Yet, if a project does require a level of flexibility in the way it’s presented, it’s the responsibility of the designer to understand how to design the layout to be flexible. All which should be reviewed and approved while still a prototype.
      .-= xirclebox´s latest Blog Entry – New Project: Sumi-e inspired Web UI Using Artrage =-.

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      • 14

        “I also feel the post assumes there is data or copy to begin with, when in some cases content hasn’t been created.”

        I don’t think he’s assuming anything. If you read what he says, Kyle even wants you to refuse to start a project until you at least have a first draft of content.

        Also, I think you meant to say that he assumed data is static? :)

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    • 15

      I have to also agree with Tom.

      Understanding the client’s work flow is extremely important — and must be understood before diving into the design. My experiences have shown most copy writing is done near the end or during the development of the site.

      Having a solid project manager or a skilled freelancer will eliminate the majority of the issues derived from “filling space” with lorem ipsum.

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    • 16

      I have to jump on the bandwaggon and agree with Tom too. The design should be approached in stages and whilst its great to have some idea of the content early on, it should not be introduced too soon. Too early in the design process it is likely to not only confuse the issue but draw out meetings and discussion purely and simply because the clients spend get wrapped up arguing over the content – and design discussion gets pushed out the window.

      I´ve sat in at many meetings whilst a co-worker has struggled to get his clients back to talking about the design – purely and simply because they are too busy arguing over the actual content – whose section gets priority, whether the profile should be written in the third or first person, should it be casual or formal english. You get the jist.

      There is certainly points to Kyle´s argument, but it should be approached on a case by case basis.

      Long live Lorem Ipsum for me!
      .-= Eliza´s latest Blog Entry – WordPress users – Backup First, Upgrade Later =-.

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  3. 17

    True!! Lorem ipsum makes design looks like a robot.
    .-= Kuswanto´s latest Blog Entry – Grass and Tree Brushes =-.

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  4. 20

    Useful information for designers and “clients” both. At the time of starting design we should have content ready for that project but most of the times content is delivered on the later stage, which is not good for design.

    Frankly speaking “Lorem Ipsum” is part of a design these days as more & more of template marketplaces are full of themes which uses Lorem Ipsum. So its good if used in right place and bad also. I use Lorem Ipsum in almost every project i do because we get content in mid phase of project always and its not possible to wait for content every time.

    Anyways a very nice article.

    Thanks for sharing

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    • 21

      That’s a good point, more and more marketplace templates are using them, but I believe a custom-built site is always and will always be better than using a template. (Considering you are a good designer)

      Also, let me ask you, why not try asking for the content before you start the project?

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      • 22

        Yes You are right that custom-built site is always and will always be better than using a template but still if you surf through sites like themeforest.net you will see hundreds of designers selling templates so for them “Lorem Ipsum” is very helpful.

        Regarding your second question :

        Jad I always ask client to provide content before i start on a project but 7 out of 10 times content is sent to me in the mid phase of the project… :)

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  5. 23

    I feel that it depends on the kind of web site you are designing.
    If it will be a content rich type of design (like a blog for instance) you know it will be stuffed with articles and in that case, I feel Lorem Ipsum is one of the best things to use. (I do prefer Corporate Ipsum)

    When you are designing a portfolio or single page website or a website that needs to be built around its content, then I absolutely agree with the article above.

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    • 24

      I think it is even more important for a content rich site. For something that has dynamic content like a blog it would be a bit more tricky though (except if it already has a few posts). Try getting a few blog posts upfront or at least some idea of what they could be.
      .-= Kyle Fiedler´s latest Blog Entry – Keeping Curious =-.

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      • 25

        I personally have mixed opinions with this one. I agree Kyle, maybe try getting a couple of blog posts together that has different styles, such as a tutorial, a list post, an article post, and a showcase post. That way, you can at least design around them…

        Personally, here at the Design Informer, I actually spend quite a bit of time styling and designing my article posts, as you can see with this post.

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  6. 26

    I totally agree with Davy… Lorem Ipsum is fine for a content rich type of design, but when I’m designing something specific, then its: “I, Nicole vow to never use Lorem Ipsum in my designs ever again.” Ever :)

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  7. 28

    Article is surely good and very true. But its not possible to implement this idea on every design we do. We can’t neglect the existence of this ‘Sample Text’.
    For sure every designer goes through different type of clients and peoples. Not all have their content ready, not all know what content will be placed, some are just out sourcers, etc etc.. This design or another, sometime we don’t have a choice. Though we can start avoiding and neglecting this!

    At the end, one nice article with a very good point arouse !

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    • 29

      I keep reading the argument that Clients never have their content ready when you start designing. How can you start designing when you don’t have any content and context to design within? Force your Client to deliver a first round of content before you design. Obviously there will be text edits, but this first round content will give you a better start then if you used Lorem ipsum.

      It may be difficult the first time you try this, but after you’ve done it once you’ll keep recognize how helpful it is.

      Nice article Fiedler.

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      • 30

        I completely agree with you on this Mike. While in my opinion, you don’t need the content for the entire website, I am a firm believer that you at least need to be able to have the content for at least the homepage and an inner page.

        As a designer, it just makes life so much easier. :)

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      • 31

        I agree with you Mike
        I believe that when you have some text you can see the style of writing (for example one person writes more or less formal). the design must comply with the content, not vice versa

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  8. 32

    I use those foreign wisdom words only when i’m stuck on what to put down in a mockup.
    well, i’m lying. i always use the lorem ipsum, but i won’t kill any designs anymore. thanks, u remind me. :D

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  9. 34

    I have yet to work with a client that has had all copy ready up front. Most of the time they are changing copy up until the site goes live and sometimes even shortly after. Professionals outside of the creative realm will never fully understand the importance of having all of the information up front. Unfortunately, there will always be a need for dummy text and there will always be pros and cons for using it.

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    • 35

      I actually have had a lot of clients come up to me with all the content in hand.

      I recently designed a website for a lawyer and he had over 100 pages of content ready to go before I even started the mock-up. I think if we explain to them our reasoning, they would not mind co-operating at all.

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  10. 36

    Well, personally, I think Kyle has most certainly brought up a very pertinent point.

    A design will ultimately house actual content, and dummy text, whilst serving well as a placeholder; will do little to project the actual look and feel of the website. Besides, most of the clients I’ve worked with often have bits of content already done up which I encourage them to use for the preliminary design stages.

    As designers, we have to conceptualise the site design as a whole entity with actual content.

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    • 37

      Great thought Josh. We definitely need to visualize the entire website as a whole and it’s really hard to do that with “dummy text.” I wonder why they call it that anyway? :)

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  11. 38

    I agree that the best case scenario is that content should be provided prior to design work beginning. After all, if the design is meant to support the content, how can it do so when it does not know what the content is? Sadly, however, best case scenarios are somewhat rare and final copy is rarely ready in the early stages of a project. My personal fall-back plans are:

    1. If it is a site redesign, I use existing copy from the client’s current site if possible. Sometimes the current copy is horrible, but in most cases, I find that it is a good starting point and adequate for mockup purposes.

    2. If no suitable copy currently exists, I use passages of text in the public domain (I prefer Edgar Allen Poe works) rather than Lorem Ipsum text. At least with the text from Poe, I don’t get asked why there is a ‘foreign language’ on the site.

    One item I have to disagree with is the idea of ‘writing your own copy’ as a blanket solution to this problem. Most designers are not writers and crafting some copy, even if it is intended to be a sample, may do the project a disservice.

    If you are a skilled writer, then by all means craft some copy, but you should also charge for that work. A writer who knows how to design wouldn’t simply throw in a free design mockup because one was not readily available, would they?

    I heartily agree that Lorem Ipsum text must go, but ‘placeholder text’ is a reality we must find a way to work with the best that we can.

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    • 39

      The ‘write your own copy’ should be left as an extreme fall back and not a blanket solution. I do agree with you that there are designers who have a hard time writing so It’s not a solution I would suggest for everyone. The idea is to get the designer and the people involved thinking more about the content and what they are putting into the site.
      .-= Kyle Fiedler´s latest Blog Entry – Keeping Curious =-.

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    • 40

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jeremy. I really appreciate you taking the time and explaining to us your plans / fall-backs about Lorem-Ipsum. It’s really some great advice and maybe something that some of the pro-lipsum people should look into.

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  12. 41

    Nice one man, keep it up!
    .-= Inside the Webb´s latest Blog Entry – Inside the Webb is back with a New Design =-.

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  13. 43

    Ahem: http://www.lipsum.com/ Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry.

    Great article, and while I’d like to rebut here, it would take more time than I have available. I will dutifully blog about this topic in the near future, until then…

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Vestibulum tortor quam, feugiat vitae, ultricies eget, tempor sit amet, ante.

    Donec eu libero sit amet quam egestas semper. Aenean ultricies mi vitae est. Mauris placerat eleifend leo.
    .-= Jason Robb´s latest Blog Entry – Don’t say no when you really mean yes =-.

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  14. 46

    This is a tough one! I actually think Lorem Ipsum as helped me in the design process, 90% of the time, especially with web design projects, the content is not ready, so I do a mock-up using Lorem Ipsum for body copy, I communicate with the client that this is just a mock-up and things will change depending on the final content. I would prefer having all the photos and body copy for a project before I start, but as we all know, most clients don’t have all the information ready at the start of a project.

    Writing body copy for a client is a great idea, but that would be an extra charge to the client, it takes extra time to write content, especially if in the end the copy will not be used. My suggestion would be to, request all content before the start of a project in your contract if not… let the client know that you will be using placement text in your first draft of the design. Personally I think Lorem Ipsum should be used in moderation :)

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    • 47

      I do agree with you on not writing your own copy. Out of Kyle’s points, that’s probably something that I would personally disagree with. Sure, I’ll write headlines and sub-headings but never the copy. It’s simply too time-consuming in my opinion.

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  15. 48

    Thanks everyone for the comments; its great to hear your thoughts and apposing arguments.
    .-= Kyle Fiedler´s latest Blog Entry – Keeping Curious =-.

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    • 49

      A big thanks to you Kyle for sparking discussion. It’s really good to hear what people in the design community have to say about this issue.

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  16. 50

    Amen Kyle.

    Designing with fake data = fake design.
    This “argument” has been around for decades.
    Lorem Ipsum’s equally evil twin is wireframing. Both are designers’ crutch…

    I’m backing you up, Kyle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/juhansonin/3471231115/in/set-72157608422072189/

    -Juhan

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  17. 53

    it’ll never happen. Doesn’t happen in real life. Nice concept but this is fail. LONG LIVE LOREM IPSUM!

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  18. 55

    “Lorem Ipsum is Killing Your Designs”

    That’s a little over the top. In an ideal world getting the content before you start is best, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Many of my clients want the design first and I’m not going to write copy for free. That is just plain bad business.

    Every case is different and to lump all of design into that statement is unrealistic. But I get your point.

    Thanks!

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  19. 58

    Lorem Ipsum is like any other design tool – you need to know how to use it in moderation, and where and when it is appropriate. The most important thing to communicate in the design comp in regards to the copy is the length of each piece and its purpose on the page. If Lorem Ipsum can do this for you, then by all means use it. These are a couple of general pointers that I observe.

    • I NEVER use Lorem Ipsum for headers, “hero” text or menu items. If I don’t have copy for these, I write them.

    • When I use a chunk of Lorem Ipsum, I will start the first paragraph off with something like “This is the teaser paragraph, which should outline the full article in 100 words or less.” This way the client knows what’s up.

    • With regards to the length of the pieces, I look at the client’s existing site, if possible, and if not I go to their competitors to get an idea.

    The final point brings up a whole ‘nother debate, which is whether you as a designer ought to be making recommendations about the length of copy (spoiler alert: I say hell yes).

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    • 59

      Chris, thanks for stopping by. Thank you for those general pointers. I think even if you are a huge lipsum fan or if you hate it, everyone can still consider these pointers.

      By the way, the last point is a great idea. While we don’t want to or have to write the copy, we should definitely make recommendations especially with the homepage.

      By the way, you have one of the nicest sites around, did you use Lorem Ipsum on your initial design?

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      • 60

        To answer your question about lorem ipsum on my site, I actually wrote and designed in tandem, which I felt was really beneficial. This allowed the content and the presentation to constantly adapt to each other’s requirements, rather than one taking the lead. Of course, most projects have a separate designer and copywriter, so this would be impossible.

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      • 61

        Great, thanks for answering Chris. That’s great since you wrote all the copy and you designed it, the workflow must have been a lot smoother compared to having to deal with a client and a copywriter. Thanks!

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  20. 62

    Here’s what I run into. Most clients I have worked with either get confused or defensive if there is anything BUT lorem ipsum on the page prior to their copy being delivered. As I am indifferent to this debate, but with past experiences I feel using placeholder text alleviates any confusion as to which version of the content is correct (due to many revisions throughout the process), and will also show where the content needs to be inserted. I have had an instance where a site went live with copy I provided, instead of lorem ipsum, only to have the client come back to me with the correct material and a message saying they would never use me again. Obviously, a rare instance, but nonetheless it just makes things easier to say upfront that this is in place until the readied content is submitted.

    It also helps if working on websites that you show it’s flexibility by placing in various amounts of text. This will show that if new content is added it won’t affect the overall design/layout of things, but rather it’s adaptability to any future changes the client may have.

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    • 63

      “Most clients I have worked with either get confused or defensive if there is anything BUT lorem ipsum on the page prior to their copy being delivered.”

      You can always ask for the copy before starting the project. :D

      But anyway, your last paragraph and argument is a good one. What about when a client wants to change text? How do we test for that? That’s a great thought. ;)

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  21. 64

    While I appreciate the enthusiasm of this article, I don’t share the viewpoint. Ok, in a ‘perfect world’ clients would know what they want, projects would be tenaciously organized and content would be written (in approved, final form) before design commenced. Of course, that would be really helpful to have all copy and know what content goes on which pages and the length and style of the writing. This scenario is likely to occur, in maybe 1 in 1,000 projects.

    For the vast majority of web design projects, I’ve found Lorem Ipsum filler copy to be a valuable design tool. It flows nicely, like real copy and is a great substitute for blank space, boxes or horizontal lines, which are sometimes used to simulate text.

    I don’t think it’s good advice for designers to take it upon themselves to write website copy. Besides being a substantial time-waster, the client hasn’t hired a web designer to become a SME on their business and wear a copywriter’s hat. Instead, the designer should focus on IA and UX, carefully planning out flows and functions with user behavior at the fore. The design mockups are meant as a springboard for the project where the designer presents page structures, grids, design motifs, color themes and specs typography.

    With proper project management and communication, explaining web design mockups and setting client expectations – it’s easy to avoid the client from getting hung up on content, but rather get their attention focused on overall design approval so that development can begin.

    Typically, copy is written and refined after the client has approved the designs and while developers are busy transforming the designer’s vision into a working model.

    In this article, I didn’t find compelling enough arguments to take the ‘anti-Lorem Ipsum’ oath. The alternatives are not based in efficiency or reality.

    Thanks for the post and good discussions.

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    • 65

      After such a well-written argument, then you are definitely free to choose what works for you. Kyle just wanted to share his thoughts on why he doesn’t use Lorem Ipsum, but I guess it works for you. Thanks for leaving your comments on Design Informer. It definitely adds more to this discussion.

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  22. 66

    I think this is an interesting point, and all the concerns here are valid.

    But I do believe that making a conscious effort to obtain copy early in the design process is a must. I guess it is time to put those copywriters that I know on speed dial!
    .-= mary fran´s latest Blog Entry – Postcard winner! =-.

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    • 67

      It is definitely a must, Mary. Also, I’m sure the client will be more than willing to get the copy to you in the beginning of the design process if you explain to him that “Content is king” and that the design should be around the content and not the other way around.

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  23. 68

    Requesting for content up front can cost you the job. Many clients get distracted, get overwhelmed about the fact they have to write it all at once, or simply take forever to produce it making launch dates excessively distant – something that can cost you the project.

    Writing your own takes enough time to (usually) kill your budgeted hours – and we all know as soon as a project isn’t profitable then its not smart to be doing it unless its pro-bono – just like any other profession.

    The only compromise I can imagine is to have the client produce home page and an *example* interior page content.
    .-= Will D. White´s latest Blog Entry – Avid Designer | You’re Too Ambitious! =-.

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    • 69

      Cost you the job? That has never happened to me.

      But I do agree with your compromise. I think that works because while you are working on the homepage, then they will have time to write the rest of the content.

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  24. 70

    Nice article Kyle… i agree that the content is king but sometimes the client want to see something before give in you the info. This interaction between client and design it i´ll depend in all cases. I prefer to had all content to start design …
    .-= designi1´s latest Blog Entry – 21 Calendars & Wallpapers for 2010 =-.

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  25. 72

    I agree that in 90% of the cases, the content is not available in the design phase and therefore, I was using lorem ipsum until I discovered this great alternative: http://www.blindtextgenerator.com/
    They have several options available for using English texts from e.g. Kafka, which makes the blind text more readable. In general, the confusion between designer and client can simply be prevented by telling the client upfront that you will use some kind of blind text when presenting the design mockups.
    Nevertheless, this is a great article and you definitely got the discussion started by questioning common practices!
    .-= Alex´s latest Blog Entry – Hello skateboard by Buddy Carr =-.

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  26. 74

    I use it, but I break it up. I make different sized sentences and paragraphs and lists.

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  27. 76

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer eu enim et eros posuere consequat id in libero.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Kyle brings up some great points and while I understand both sides of the argument here, it is not a do or die situation. Most of the clients that I work with do ask questions about Lorem ipsum though. I wonder if it would be better or worse to create dummy content that is not page appropriate but also not Latin, ie:

    “This is a block of dummy text used for the purpose of taking up space where your actual content will reside…(continues for several sentences)…After this paragraph concludes, it will start all over again.”

    (repeat)
    .-= Chris Thurman´s latest Blog Entry – Make 2010 a Year for Giving (Giveaway Included) =-.

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    • 77

      Like your sense of humor. :)

      When I started reading, I was about to delete it because I didn’t realize that you actually commented.

      it is not a do or die situation.

      I agree, that’s why I think we should be open to suggestions, such as this article, but ultimately, we should stick with whatever works best for our projects.

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  28. 78

    Well It´s true, I mean “Lorem Ipsum” sucks. But you have to think something about this. There are many situations in what clients don´t let you stuff and even they don´t know well what they want to say or sell with the designs, and this even worse in web because content is usually longer.

    It´s disgusting work like that, and sometimes clients work in contents when they see “something” made, something visual I mean.

    The uthopic way to work should be the one you get all contents before you begin to design. But this situation it´s not as common as it´s suppose to be.

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    • 79

      I agree, it’s not too common, but the more designers start asking for content beforehand, sooner or later, it will become a standard practice. That’s what we should strive after.

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  29. 80

    There is a time a place for greeking text. Your point is overkill.

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  30. 82

    great article. As someone posted above I tend to break it up when I use it, however it’s never ideal and I usually try to get the content before the project starts. When you don’t have the content though it’s a must to help you show the client where text would go.

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    • 83

      As long as you try, then I guess it’s okay to use it as a last resort. What I don’t understand is designers who will start without even trying to obtain a rough draft of the content?

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  31. 84

    Though I see your point. I completely disagree. I have presented designs with actual copy and the focus became the content not the visuals. A LOT of good things come from Loren ipsum like how much content is needed or, font size, font style, etc. When Lorem Ipsum is presented as a mock up Element the client is just fine. presenting anything else is a dis service to your design and client.

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    • 85

      Well, if the content stands out to the client and not the design, then we might need to explain to them the whole situation. Either way, for or against Lorem, communication plays a vital role.

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  32. 86

    In an ideal world Lorem Ipsum wouldn’t be required, regardless of it’s aesthetic merits. But anyone with even a couple of years experience in commercial design knows that it is almost 100% necessary because content comes last. Why’s that? Well, without sounding bitter, that’s the part where the client is expected to actually work.

    Where lorem ipsum is used it is to give a visual representation of copy in place. I’ve yet to meet a client stupid enough to wonder if it was actual authentic content that I had written. If that does happen folks I suggest you get out of there! And isn’t a client who is want to question why this strange language is in place not the exact same client who would be more confused with content you had written yourself?

    Again, it’s not ideal but Lorem Ipsum is not killing any of my designs. Some may be beaten slowly to death by less desirable clients of course…

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  33. 88

    I’d like to respectfully disagree with this.

    You have good intentions — of course content should inform design (otherwise we’re just producing art/wallpaper/whatever you want to call it) but it is possible to produce an informed piece of visual communication without having finalised copy.

    It’s not the same as ‘doing a layout’ or ‘doing a logo’ in absence of any context; Lipsum is just a convenient way to see how copy will flow before you have finalised content.

    If you wait to receive said finalised content for every piece of design you produce you can’t be very productive…

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    • 89

      I agree, you might not be very productive, and that’s why you should immediately state the requirements before taking a project. That way, the client knows what’s expected of them and it doesn’t take them months to finish the content.

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  34. 90

    I do agree with the sentiment here. You never know what a design is going to look like until you have the real content in – I’ve told this to clients before to try and get real content in to aid the design process. The design process isn’t finished until I get that copy.

    However…

    When that’s not available (and importantly I have no input on the content) I consider Lorem Ipsum the best solution.

    The simple explanation to clients is that it’s traditional dummy copy used for ever in the print industry, so it’s never been an issue for me when clients haven’t known what it is.

    There are several bonuses: The client doesn’t think you’re taken it on yourself write the copy for them or that you’ve put the wrong copy in. No inaccurate placeholder text can make it in, which is easy to do. Also, no rude or unprofessional placeholder text can ever make it in at any stage.

    A much more subtle point is that if you put some made up copy in and it shows even a small misjudgement or a wrong assumption about the client or product, it can show poor research on your part or lack of affinity with them.

    So yes to prioritising content over design in the workflow (that’s the ideal situation) but I still see it as a preference to making stuff up when you’re waiting for content from somewhere else. No placeholder content can give you the finality of design that the real stuff will.

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  35. 92

    I strongly disagree with this article, sorry. If you don’t have definitive (or close to) texts, go Lorem !

    Of course if you have a headline, you better have a mockup of what you want to say even if it is not definitive, but for bodycopy, lorem ipsum is fine, really !

    “Lorem Ipsum has distracted clients from design mock-ups for decades” That’s half true…
    I’ve seen more times a client say “Oh, we need to correct this number”, “We can’t say that”, “There is a typo there” than “what is this this language”.

    It’s the contrary in fact “Wrong informations distracts the client from the design”. It’s really painful to hear a client saying “This is wrong” when you just want to know if he likes the design.

    You can give him another document with the text, so he makes the different between the content and the container.

    We don’t make brochures mockups with high definition pictures or take the final shots before showing the idea to the client, so why coming with a half completed text ?

    But this article makes its point, I just disagree with it ! :-)

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    • 93

      We don’t make brochures mockups with high definition pictures or take the final shots before showing the idea to the client, so why coming with a half completed text ?

      Actually, I will respectfully disagree, but I think we should be using high-quliaty images in our mock-ups. I mean, they only cost a couple of dollars, why not use a high-quality image that doesn’t contain a watermark? It definitely makes us look more professional, and they won’t get distracted. :)

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      • 94

        I don’t say you should stick with the big “ISTOCKPHOTO” logo on you mockup. But you don’t need either tho work with full 300dpi images.

        What do you do when you want to take photoshoots for your concept ? You pay a photographer for each concept ?

        Sorry, this is a nice article, I enjoyed it, but I must disagree. At least in 90% of the cases.

        :-)

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  36. 95

    I agree 100%! It is always best to use placeholder text that gives the client some basic idea of what they can expect and use that allotted space for.

    If it is a re-design you can pull old copy from the current site, in some cases I have even asked them to provide some basic content for mockup purposes.
    .-= digibomb´s latest Blog Entry – Project52 challenge! =-.

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    • 96

      Hey, that’s definitely a great idea, to pull content from their old site. Most likely, they will be just re-using it. The problem is with clients who have never had a website. I suggest giving them some suggestions about content length, etc.

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  37. 97

    Excellent article, Kyle! I really agree with this – but the sad part is that sometimes the client doesn’t have the content written yet and we have to struggle with what we have. I’m trying to use a English version of filler text so that it’s a little easier to pay more attention to the design than to the content, but the design changes as soon as you get that real content.
    .-= James Costa´s latest Blog Entry – 5 Tips To Help You Make The Best Use of Twitter As A Marketing Tool =-.

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    • 98

      I’m glad you agree with Kyle. But I think the issue is not whether the filler text is in Greek, Latin or English, it’s about the design preceding the content, which in reality makes design King over content.

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  38. 99

    “Lorem Ipsum is killing our designs?”

    I complete agree with you… But I when I was a fresher in web designs industry, Lorem Ipsum was all way in my “clipboard “. It was easy to just paste readymade contents. But Now a day I don’t often use Lorem Ipsum becoz as you said “Lorem Ipsum Kills Our Designs”

    Great concept. Beautifully executed.

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  39. 101

    This is a really good article, it does bring to light a few issues, though I find that when designing I usually go to Lipsum.com and, to get around any language issues, usually just copy and paste the “background information” not only does this stop clients from saying “i dont understand what is written on my site” it gives them a nice bit of information.

    Generally I find that that’s the only issue I have with using Lorem Ipsum, I generally get a good idea of how much copy my clients are going to have by keeping my copywriter close to hand and going over briefs with the client and copywriter. From the brief i generally get a concise idea of how much room for content i will need.

    The other way to get around space in design is to create something that will have some elasticity with regard to content area.

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  40. 103

    Sometimes I’ve replaced lorem ipson with “this is just temporary placement/filler text” or something similar so that the client doesn’t get distracted. I don’t get some clients sometimes though, you can be so straightforward and direct yet they still bypass what you said with some off the wall comments..
    .-= Melody´s latest Blog Entry – Time Machine: The History of Sex Dolls =-.

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  41. 105

    1) What is more distracting to a client is to put in actual copy. This happened to me 4 weeks ago. I thought I’d try putting actual content in and the client spent the two hour meeting discussing the semantics of the marketing message. Only when I put Lorem Ipsum in could they focus on design because:

    2) The copywriter isn’t going to have copy complete before you start design. How can it confuse the developer? He can put in Lorem Ipsum as a place holder that can be switched out later for the real copy by the developer or (if you’re using a CMS) by the client or copywriter.

    3) Pages with no content, old content, or incorrect content get pushed live sometimes, what’s your point? Whoever is in charge of launching the site should make sure this never happens. If it does go live with Lorem Ipsum, it’s easier to spot than old or incorrect copy.

    4) Copy takes awhile to write. There is alot of back and forth between the copy writer and the client. If the designer waited until the copy was written, it would blow any timeline by weeks or months. Perhaps only weeks with a small site, but what about sites of 100 pages or more? Very often a timeline is set for the entire project, say 2 months for a small website. If the copy takes 2 weeks to be written and refined, you’ve now lost a quarter of your design and development time.

    It’s true that with a print project it is difficult to design around Lorem Ipsum. But with a web project, there is no “writing to fit”. The content area is meant to be flexible due to the differences in type rendering by different browsers, devices and platforms.

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    • 106

      Thanks for bringing up these concerns Michael. I’m just surprised that the client spent two hours discussing the semantics of their marketing message with you. Sorry to hear that.

      What you should tell them before the meeting is that the meeting will solely be about the design. :)

      Thanks again for writing your thoughts and sharing them in the discussion.

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    • 107

      This article reminds me of a forum topic on a racing website. A guy broke a set of Rhino Ramps. Twice. And then posted how dangerous they were. There were a ton of comments. People that had used Rhino Ramps for years, sometimes 10 or more, without problem, but now they knew how unsafe they were and would never use them again.

      The thing was, I couldn’t find a single other instance of complaint about Rhino Ramps anywhere on the internet. Not a single case of them breaking – but this guy broke TWO. Which tells me that this individual was using them wrong, and the ramps themselves were not faulty. This was evidenced further by the fact that other people said they had used them for years safely…but now giving them up because someone wrote an article saying “you should never use these”.

      If a designer should wait until they are handed final copy before designing because your design should ONLY fit the actual copy, this creates several immediate problems.

      1) If the copy changes pre-launch, then your design is destroyed, because it ONLY fits the copy first handed to you. If this weren’t the case, then the dummy text wouldn’t be an issue, because the design would be able to handle changing content.

      2) If the site uses a translator, or even has separate pre-made pages in different languages – Spanish, French, etc – the design fails, because if it only works with the English version of the original content, and the dummy text doesn’t…then nothing will. Good design is not language specific. Typesetting, colors, spacing, white space – these things are not relative to a body of content, but they do matter in terms of visual appeal. Someone that didn’t speak a word of English could visit this article, look at the layout of the text and determine good line, good contrast, without having any clue to the actual content and say whether or not this page looks good.

      3) If the site happens to grow in the future, same situation. If the design is so closely tied to the actual word-for-word content of the text, that you cannot remove one body of text and replace it with another, the site cannot grow or change. I cannot think of a more poor technique of design than one that completely handcuffs a company’s ability to grow.

      Craigslist was used as an example of quality of content vs aesthetic design. I’m not sure this is a strong example, although it’s probably the most commonly used. If you were to take Craiglist in the design phase, remove the names of all the cities and replace them with Lorem Ipsum, under the heading “US Cities”, would we still not understand that this is space dedicated to cities in the United States? If Craigslist’s layout were so closely designed to the ORIGINAL content, Craigslist would only be a fraction of what it is today. It was originally simply local here in the San Francisco area. Not global. The fact that CL was able to plug in additional cities with complete ease, and an absolute ability to be fluid – rather than stuck in a situation of fixed content – allowed it to become what it is today.

      “It’s filler text. It’s to show you how the page will look once we plug in the actual content”.

      That just isn’t that a difficult message to convey. If the client is too dumb to understand that much, then there will be no communicating with them at any level, so what is on the page doesn’t make a difference.

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      • 108

        That was a brilliant defense of Lorem Ipsum, Mark! Well done! I like the way you started with that story about the ramps and then transitioned it to your commentary on Lorem Ipsum.

        “If the copy changes pre-launch, then your design is destroyed.”

        Well, that’s not necessarily true. Kyle even mentioned that all that is needed is just a draft. Let me explain my reasoning behind all this.

        I think as designers, we are able to make a design more creative if we had the actual content. For example, we can read the contents and pull images out of the content that was written. We can also style a quote from the content, and really tailor-fit our designs. This is what Jason Santa Maria and Dustin Curtis has been able to do in their blogs, and blogs are supposed to be standard, normal looking, designs. How where they able to do it? By writing the content first before designing the page.

        I personally don’t think it ruins the design of a site. Anybody can download a theme from Theme Forest and just fill it in with your content, and the site won’t look bad. It’s just my opinion that when you have the content in front of you while designing, you are able to come up with something more unique, more creative, and more special. That’s just my two cents. :)

        Thanks again for taking the time and articulating your thoughts about the article. I really appreciate the effort.

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  42. 109

    awesome work. I was drafting a similar article yesterday, but your is better :) well done.

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  43. 111

    Wow! I had never thought of it. Brilliant article.

    Cheers

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  44. 113

    The problem if you don’t use lorem ipsum is what do you put in as placeholding text? From my experience, if you have the actual copy in the designs instead of a placeholder, the client starts focusing on the content rather than the design and starts wanting to reword the content. This is not what you want when you are wanting feedback about the design.
    .-= Chris´s latest Blog Entry – Change the email body character set with PEAR Mail_Mime =-.

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    • 114

      Well, to answer your question, what you use is the actual content. Ask for it before starting the project. They can make revisions to it, but it’ always good to have the general idea of what is going to go on the page.

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  45. 115

    Kyle – I love the fact that you took the time to write a rebuttal for this.

    “The point I tried to make is that you and your clients need to be thinking, understanding and gathering content before the design.”

    I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Even first draft copy (which may even be the text on the client’s current site slightly reworked) will allow us to create designs that are better suited to the content.

    I liken it to designing a package for a product without having any idea what the product is, how big it is, or what the overall feel of the product may be. How could you design a package to contain something if you have no clue what it needs to contain? Yet we do this with Web sites all the time.

    “Just because using Lorem Ipsum is easy and it fits smoothly into your current process doesn’t make it right.”

    Bold statement, but very true. Well said, Kyle, well said.

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    • 116

      Thanks again for participating and adding your two cents Jeremy. Looking forward to working with you again here at Design Informer. Hopefully, sooner than later. :)

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  46. 117

    I believe a good designer should know a thing or two about writing content and relating content to the ideas and the needs of the client and the usability requirements of the user. In many situations I trust myself more than most to generate headlines and calls to action that reinforce and inform the design. There are many elements that should never be shown to a client as lorem ipsum.

    However, that being said, there are still good uses for lorem ipsum in the design process.

    I do believe that professional copy writing improves design, but since many clients will not hire one, I would be hesitant to ask them to generate it for me without design direction because they will often make poor decisions about length and subject matter. Generating the lorem ipsum gives them the constraints they need to help them write better copy.

    Even if they do hire a professional, I would want to collaborate with them rather than have them throw something over the wall as a “design requirement” before I start.

    Also there are some elements that require lorem ipsum such as a news article template that should be able to accommodate varying amounts of text.

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    • 118

      Thanks for your well-thought out reply, Craig. I really agree with the points that you made.

      I believe a good designer should know a thing or two about writing content and relating content to the ideas and the needs of the client and the usability requirements of the user.

      That’s exactly right in my opinion. Also, the point you made about collaboration, that’s definitely a great thing to have with the client and the copywriter as well. :) Thanks again!

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  47. 119

    I’m really surprised this post ignited such a huge debate… don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing, a good debate is always healthy for us as community. It’s just that don’t see what all the fuzz is about: a very good and clever point was made.

    Whether we agree or not is OK. We all have our judgement and there are cases of cases.
    More importantly, no one is dictating any ultimate truth here.

    I absolutely enjoyed this article, absolutely agreed with it, and absolutely had fun reading people’s opinion.

    thanks for sharing guys

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  48. 121

    Sure. And brainstorming and note-taking are the mortal enemies of the enemy of the writer.

    Context, people.

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  49. 123

    Thank you! As a copywriter and content specialist, I’ve had several clients ask for more pages than can fit on their navigation menus. When I send them the final copy, they ask, “Any suggestions how I can squeeze this into my site? I just paid for this brand new design…”

    I always try to educate my clients and let them know that the various components of the site (text, design, images, etc.) need to come together in a cohesive manner. Therefore, they should all be part of a single plan. Also, I think the design and copy work flow more smoothly when designers and copywriters have a clear vision for the end result.
    .-= Melissa Donovan´s latest Blog Entry – An Introduction to Doing Business Online =-.

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    • 124

      It’s really nice to read the opinion of a professional copywriter and content specialist. :)

      Definitely adds another perspective to this discussion.

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  50. 125

    I’ll never use a Lorem Ipsum, I always fill it with content before I will check the previews.

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