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

    A very good article with some excellent debate within the comments. I think that it depends on the situation of the design. For instance I do a lot of design for the same high-end clients and they are used to seeing and understand the concept of lorem ipsum. However this article has certainly opened my mind to considering other options when designing for new clients. It would be perfect to have rough/first draft copy prior to working on a design, but we all know that most of the time that is not going to happen. Great article!
    .-= Aaron Riddle´s latest Blog Entry – ABCs of Photography – H is for Hedgehog =-.

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    • 52

      You’re right Aaron. It’s not going to happen… unless we make it happen. We should definitely start asking for content before we start the design. :)

      0
  2. 103

    The main problem with Lorem Ipsum lies with the designer. Too often the designer formats the lorem ipsum text to fit the design instead of thinking ahead of how the width/height/format of the content will change. If the designer realize that lorem ipsum should not be used as a design element but as a content element, this is usually not a problem. However, too often designers tweaks the lorem ipsum text to fit shortcomings of their design (“ooh, it looks better if I truncate the text here and only write one line in the headline, that way my design will not be distorted”).
    .-= Jens Ode´s latest Blog Entry – On Cloud One With Dropbox =-.

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    • 154

      That makes sense and that’s really why there is such a danger with Lorem Ipsum. We tend to use it just to make our designs look better. Long live the KING!

      0
  3. 205

    In a perfect world the client would always supply you with the content ahead of time. While I love it when this happens it often is not the case and we need to get a site design (fairly) stable while content is being developed. Lorem Ipsum is a tool and if used as a tool can be very helpful in putting those placeholders in to keep the process flowing.

    And yes, I have had clients who got confused by the gibberish text on the screen before so it is important to get all that cleared up in the beginning so you don’t waste time trying to explain what it is and why it is there.

    We all have many tools that we use at times and if you use Lorem Ipsum as one of those tools it works fine.

    0
    • 256

      In a perfect world…

      I’ve read that a lot from these comments. In reality, we do have a choice whether or not we want to use Lorem or not, as long as we specify to the client beforehand. I guess with existing projects, it will be hard, but with new projects, I don’t see it being a problem or an issue. :)

      0
  4. 307

    Nice article. As a web designer I have also had my fair share of time explaining to people what Lorem Ipsum is and why I have used it in the past.

    In my view Lorem Ipsum is only useful when there is no plan for the content. As content is king, this should never be allowed to happen really.

    So it has its uses, but more of a last resort.
    .-= Ricky Hewitt´s latest Blog Entry – Twitter hacked. Prognosis? =-.

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  5. 409

    You’ve got to be kidding me. I can’t even take it serious, I hear you saying this:
    “It really crazy to think that fake Greek text is so controversial”.

    Lorem ipsum… is fake LATIN. Greek text is a whole different font. Our numbers (1, 2, 3) are Arabic, our font is LATIN.

    Furthermore, I think the article is so hypocrite. Almost all designers get pissed if a client is too pushy about the design. He hired you to make the design. Then please: STAY with the design. If the client wants content, he should hire somebody for that.
    I think it’s very hard for some people to visualize the content ‘in there’ if there isn’t any content written yet. Sometimes a designer just has to use Lorem Ipsum because the client expects him to!

    0
    • 460

      Asking for content doesn’t mean that you are interfering with the client. We need a basis for our design and that’s what the content is for. We can’t just design the site just to design the site, we need to design it around the content, and we can’t really do that with Lorem Ipsum. Well, technically, we can, but it just won’t turn out as great as if we designed around the content. :)

      0
    • 511

      In this case, I feel that the designs are unfinished decoration. Presenting the Lorem Ipsum version to the client should be accompanied with “this is what the design /could/ look like.” It’s not there yet.

      As soon as you flow actual copy into this unfinished design, then you see the real problem. Now you have to push and pull your decoration to wrap nicely around content.

      This is backwards and has the possibility of causing headaches and waste your time.

      I have done both methods: design before and after copy. From experience, I know that the more powerful and context-correct designs come from the written word.

      Books aren’t written with Lorem Ipsum for the story to be added in later. Photos aren’t taken with cardboard cutout placeholders. Why should web site design be any different?

      0
  6. 562

    Since I began designing with already existing content, I found that a lot of my design elements come from what is written. If I lose some inspiration, I just reread the copy. Usually a light bulb turns on above my head.

    It’s there when I look up.

    Nice article. Good points. And if possible, all designs should hold until a little copy is written (at least content for a home page design).
    .-= Andrew´s latest Blog Entry – Initial Concerns on Designing Within a Browser =-.

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    • 613

      Andrew, you pretty much just summarized what I have been trying to say with all of my comments. That is exactly the point that I was trying to make.

      When you have the content, it’s a lot easier to be more creative. :)

      Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and adding more value to the discussion.

      0
  7. 715

    I usually don’t use Lorem Ipsum to fill new contents but I find it useful in case of a mock-up copy to show works without showing the real content.
    For example if I do a Business Plan for a Company and I want to show the result to other potential customers, I remove the real content, that must be private, and fill in with Lorem Ipsum.
    .-= Ester´s latest Blog Entry – Book Review: Before&After Page Design =-.

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  8. 766

    Too often I’ll have clients get so distracted by a mis-written headline, that they’ll end up rejecting the design. I have to use Lorem Ipsum to get the design approved before I can start dealing with getting the copy correct.

    I wish it wasn’t this way, but I don’t live/work in a perfect world where I have the copy first.
    .-= Jim MacLeod´s latest Blog Entry – Mad Men Poster =-.

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  9. 817

    Interesting topic and easy to see why Lorum Ipsum may be too distracting. I guess the next topic will be about the “Lorum Ipsum” of visuals and that’s stock photography in comps which, to me, can cause just as many headaches and misconceptions.

    I made this one of the my three links of the day on my daily design blog Design Thought for the Day”:
    http://designthoughtfortheday.blogspot.com/2010/01/01-07-lorem-ipsum-psd-masks-psd-tips.html

    All the best, Ted

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  10. 868

    If honestly, I can’t agree with an author, cause, I always use Lorem ipsum, it’s great tool for designers, it always helps me to spend less time for writing text, and the issue with customers I always solve, when I tell them that it’s just a text generator, and they shouldn’t have to pay attention.

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  11. 919

    This is a tough call and I’m not 100% sold on Lorem Ipsum killing your design thing. But I never recall using lorem ipsum on web design, I use them mostly on print. I find it too idealist but nevertheless, it’s a good article.

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  12. 970

    Very good article! Truely the Lorem ipsum text is a design killer, a client when presenting him his design will be more able to imagine himself using it whith real texts (he will read texts, even a few words).

    The same goes to pictures used in the design. I you use stock pictures in low resolution and with the Watermark of the Dreamstime or iStock photo on it, it’s an element that can give a bad impression to the client. Instead spend 2-3$ to buy the high quality version, this have way more impact visually.
    .-= Webagency Genève, Too Pixel´s latest Blog Entry – m2bstudio® – Fitness Center Genève =-.

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  13. 1021

    When I started to design websites I saw a lot of works and couldn’t understand why most designers use Lorem Ipsum. But now I’m using it too, because for me it’s the fastest way to put text on the design. In my opinion text doesn’t have big importance in design.
    Thank you for article Kyle.
    .-= Tomas´s latest Blog Entry – 90 Best Premium WordPress Themes of 2009 =-.

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  14. 1072

    Its really a love hate relationship, I have been in the print world for the past 13 years and when designing a magazine nothing is better, you can really concentrate on your design and throttle forward. live headlines of course but with the body copy using lorem.

    But you raise a great point about client concentrating on the copy and not looking at the design. Presenting your work as a whole gets your point across and make it an easier transition for the client.

    Great Article

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  15. 1123

    I am a brand identity developer, not a web designer – so I guess I’m having a hard time visualizing just how the Lorem text could hurt a design. Have I used it before? Yes. Was it an issue? No.

    I would love to see an addendum to this article including a visual example of a design with the text, without the text, and with “fake copy” that is related to the design. But maybe that’s just me because I am a visual person.

    In my head, if I were a website designer, I feel that I would be stepping over a line to supply anything other than the greek text because by supplying fake yet relevant copy could a) unknowingly make the client steer the project in a whole new direction b) upset the client because they see it as imposing ideas on them or giving them the impression that what they are currently working on isn’t good enough for you – or c) end up making more work for you the designer because they will want to use your copy but not pay you for it because it was just something you “threw in” and was not an agreed upon task that was clearly stated in your design contract. In my head, writing for a company and designing for a company are two separate jobs.

    However, this was a great article regardless of what I think and I love that the comments add to it’s greatness. I’m going to be passing this one on for sure! Thanks much! :)

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  16. 1174

    Great article. We banned greeked copy from all wireframes and comps about six months ago. It has made it far easier to sell our work to clients and prevented a ton of internal confusion.

    0
  17. 1225

    I get the point, but I disagree with this article, basically because I’ve never had any problems with my clients seeing this latin text in the mock-ups.

    In an ideal world, I would get all the content before starting the project, but that rarely happens… so most of the time, I find Lorem Ipsum very useful. Of course the design might have to change a little when the content is received, but I always let my clients know that the design process isn’t completed until I get the content anyway.

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  18. 1276

    I have been using Lorem Ipsum in my designs for over 10 years – in a way, clients don’t know exactly what they want to say in the website – we help them figure out their navigation links, and what type of text goes on each page, and then we suggest a copywriter to help with the actual wording.

    Even if the client gave us the copy in advance, it would usually be too much text! This is the most common problem.

    Here is an ideal world scenario:

    1. We have a meeting and with the client agree on the site structure.
    2. We have complete freedom whit word counts etc and we design a functional design which shows where headline and body copy would be – using trusty Lorem Ipsum
    3. When the design is approved, we give word counts to the copywriter or client and they stick to them
    4. The final site looks like the design we planned!

    We do have one copywriter who prefers us not to design until she has written the copy. But other copywriters are happy to fit into our designs.

    Having read all the comments, I think I am going to test the idea of insisting on copy in advance, and see if this helps with the efficiency/workflow without affecting the design. This would ONLY work if we used an experienced website copywriter!

    0
    • 1327

      When a copywriter has to shape his or her word to fit your design, then there is a problem. Content should be driving the design, not the other way around.

      The copywriter is too worried and distracted by word count to get the point across as best as possible.
      .-= Andrew´s latest Blog Entry – Initial Concerns on Designing Within a Browser =-.

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  19. 1378

    Surely, it’s meaningless Cicero alike text but while you don’t have any other text to fill out it’s better to create some false content than showing your website bald.
    Anyway, great article.
    .-= Kamila – Darc Vanilla Design´s latest Blog Entry – 18 Sins A Bad Designer Commits =-.

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  20. 1429

    There is no excuse for using lorem ipsum.

    It’s lazy.
    Excuses like “My client will concentrate on the copy versus the UI” =
    1) good, they’re supposed to concentrate on the data
    2) as the designer, you need to manage and guide your clients during feedback sessions. If they run wild for 2 hours on copy, maybe it needs it. If not, start handling and designing the meeting expectations. Designers need to design and guide real experiences… like a meeting. If you can’t do that, that’s your problem, not the UIs.
    3) if you want clients to only worry about the UI elements, you’re a stylist, not a Designer.

    By not understanding the data/content, you don’t understand the interface… and more importantly, the decisions people make by using your software. You need to understand the data and find the core stories.

    Low fidelity comps = low fidelity feedback. The more true the data is, the truer the response. At the very least, grab data that feels like the data set you’ll eventually get. If you can’t find like-data, start crafting it yourself. Another excuse is, “I don’t have time to create content.” It’s part of our job to Design and have a system engineering approach to problem solving. By whipping up content that has a whiff of truth, it gets closer to the final product… way closer than utterly useless lorem ipsum. And occasionally, your data or copy will be good enough for production.

    And real data won’t blow up production. How many times have you seen lorem ipsum on a real service (like Obama’s campaign contribution site to Mobile Me signup screens)? That’s criminal.

    There is no reasonable counter to Kyle’s ban lorem ipsum call.
    Again, fake data = fake design.

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    • 1480

      Juhan,

      Three words.

      Amen To That.

      -Mike

      0
    • 1531

      Using lorem ipsum does not prevent you from establishing the content areas and functionality of a page. On the contrary, low fidelity comps allow for more attention to the functionality and purpose of the entire page. It’s the same principle behind generating several thumbnail sketches before delving into design details.

      The more information the better, but the process behind getting that information and determining it’s relevance and length requires a creative/collaborative process. I have yet to see a better solution at exploring copy placement and length in relation to the overall function of a page presented.

      If a design breaks when the client added real content, then I would suggest re-evaluating design techniques because layouts should provide enough versatility to allow for content tweaks.

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  21. 1582

    I’ve really appreciated the comments here from copy writers and non-designers. It’s only reinforced my belief that separating content and design is not a clean process.

    I still feel that lorem ipsum is actually a very effective engaging and visual way to engage the client about copy guidelines.

    I think the root of the problem people are trying to address is that they haven’t found a way to engage the client about what their design and business needs are before they begin the design. Lorem ipsum is not the culprit, and throwing pre-fab content over the wall before design starts is not the solution.

    The best method I’ve found is to start the client off with wireframe detailing content blocks and site map. At the end of the day though, the light usually doesn’t go on for the client until they see the actual design.

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  22. 1633

    I disagree… I use Ipsum to mock things up. Copy is part of layout, it’s part of design, it turns into an element. People ask me “how does that sound” I tell them… honestly I do not read you copy and look for typos. My job is to make this look visually appealing.

    If a copy block calls for 250, 500, 1,400 words. Get that many from their site. It is much easier than hiring a copy writer to do research on a subject for a mock-up.

    I got tired of clients reading garble that made sense (jabberwalky) but took the focus off the true design. They got so caught up in reading this jabber that I had to steer them back to what the focus was.

    Ipsum catches them for a split second then they are back to the important stuff, proofing design.

    I will continue using Ipsum. :)

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  23. 1684

    >> 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.

    I totally agree! I’ve been having problems with this since I used it for the first time in a magazine layout.
    .-= Silvi (The Daily Type Play)´s latest Blog Entry – Photo =-.

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  24. 1735

    The concept of using dummy text isn’t a bad one, because sometimes the client has neither the content nor the timeframe to allow for writing a first draft(especially if they literally have nothing written) and THEN proceeding to the design stage. They want to dive right in and be shown something fairly quick.

    http://www.blindtextgenerator.com/ is much better, and is closer to what final content will look like. I’ve taken to using it instead of lorem ipsum exclusively now.

    Also, lorem ipsum is latin, not greek ;)

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  25. 1786

    I agree with those who said there’s a difference between short and long text elements do design. When (for example) designing a custom widget with very small amounts of teaser text, it’s vital to know the exact nature of the contents to be able to present them well.

    When dealing with large copytexts (like in blog designs), I usually assume that Lorem Ipsum is the best way to make clear that this is just a placeholder. Maybe I’m wrong here but I believe that even a lot of non-designers know what it’s meant to be. ‘Meaningless dummy text. Work in progress. Please focus on the design and not the contents.’

    When it comes to print design, I’d always recommend an alternative dummy text: Choose the language that the design is made for! Many languages (like my own) have odd glyphs like ö or å and it’s vital to know if the font of your choice displays them correctly and nicely.
    .-= Anna-Lena´s latest Blog Entry – DraftDeLuxe: RT @AndreaReitmeier: Wie mache ich mein Blog bekannt? Tipps für blog.de-Mitglieder: http://redir.ec/bloggertipps #einsteiger #seo #blog.de =-.

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  26. 1837

    If you think having Lorem ipsum go live is a problem, you haven’t seen anything like the damage that ensues when something that could be taken as actual copy ends up going live. The history of such events in newspapers goes back for decades, and there was a case just last year involving millions of dollars of stock-market losses when an old story was inadvertently released into a CMS as if new. Dummy text has to be obviously dummy text, and Lorem ipsum is an excellent solution.

    In our age, you can’t wait to start design until the final copy has been written, approved, and possibly signed off by legal.

    Besides, we need to divorce content and presentation. Yes, the design has to serve the content, but that doesn’t mean a competent designer can’t come up with a presentation that suits the content without actually having the content at the concept stage.

    Van

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  27. 1888

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit…

    Had to do it. Nice article but in the real world not practical.
    Maybe write an article on an HTML How-To cross browser template.

    Now that is practical.

    word

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  28. 1939

    Lorem Ipsum is actually good. You can show the copy writer how you want the text to be laid out. The thing is in most cases (most of the websites are cheap crap) copywriter have no idea how the text in web works so at least you can show him with dummy text that paragraphs looks better when short, lists and bullet points on web sucks and a lot of plain text looks like Lorerm ipsum even if it is not lorem ipsum :) And the thing is even shite websites has some CMS and this gives to client oportunity to fcuk up the text in any time (what happens in most cases), so better is to design keeping in mind that text can be one paragraph or 3 screens and lorem ipsum gives the possibility to test these kind of scenarios. So, go on and write I will never use Lorem Ipsum again and will design crap banners for the rest of life…

    And submit comment button TOTALY SUCKS!!! … it is not even a button.

    0
    • 1990

      Thanks for sharing your opinion with us, but there’s no need or room for swearing and cursing on this blog. We don’t mind if you disagree with the article, but please do so in a respectable manner.

      Oh, and I think you spelled “totally” wrong. :)

      And one more thing, about the submit comment button, I just wanted to be a little creative with it, that’s all.

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  29. 2041

    Really interesting article and comments. I agree lorem ipsum makes people lazy, and there should be far more emphasis on content. I wouldn’t ever start a web design without having a siteplan and content outline. Otherwise the design is just window dressing and probably won’t work with the content.

    When doing layouts, I use a mixture of real text and Latin text. Real text for headlines, feature panels, navigation, and Latin text for body copy, with a note saying “dummy text follows” so clients aren’t confused. Sometimes I use real text for body copy, and just cut off the bit that’s too long, so the client can see what fits.

    I often write text for intro paragraphs, quotes, etc, but as not all web designers are natural copywriters (or good spellers!) that may not work for everyone. Be careful – clients will get bogged down with the words, which is fine at final approval stage but not so good at initial design stage. That’s when lorem ipsum has its place.

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  30. 2092

    i don’t even know where to begin with the inaccuracies of this article in not using greeking copy to aid design. if you let ‘content’ run away with itself just on the merit of what it is, then you have a worse problem than adding in greeking.

    In the same manner as shooting or creating your own assets, you plan out how to frame that content. You may have an idea for the way the design needs to be communicated as the relationship between both visuals and copy need to interact there is no difference in this than directing the wordsmithing. There is nothing wrong with greeking copy, if you know what you are doing, its not that greeking is the problem is the designer using it.

    never the less, well written article, although cheap shot and readership numbers ;)

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  31. 2143

    I very much disagree with nearly all aspects of this article.

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  32. 2194

    This is almost as ridiculous as that one article attacking the use of grid systems.

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  33. 2245

    Lorem ipsum is indeed handy to have dummy text when content is not ready, but more often than not you see the definitive copy have a totally different impact on the overall design.

    Clients that reduce a page of lorem ipsum to 3 sentences of content leaving a huge area of whitespace, ruining the design.

    So, yes, I believe that lorem ipsum sometimes can kill your design.

    ToM.
    .-= tom hermans´s latest Blog Entry – ontwerp wijnfles etiketten voor getuigen bij huwelijk =-.

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  34. 2296

    Hello. Isn’t it our Job to create flexible layout? A good layout shouldn’t have great differences between lipsum and real content. This is exactly why our job is so complicated: the final render should look the same on any browser of any OS, with different contents.
    To me, a design looking bad after adding the content is obviously not worked enough.
    What would you say if the architect who draw your house tells you: ‘you will never have child, relax, just extend your tiny bathroom to that blue-pink bedroom which is obviously a loss of space’
    I will use the lorem ipsum since it is a great tool when used well: you can choose the length of the text, so don’t hesitate, render multiple texts in your design!
    See you

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  35. 2347

    It all depends. When you fill the site with rough copy, clients tend to zoom in on the copy and pointing out spelling errors or correcting phrasings instead of watching at the design. Sometimes I REMOVE the rough copy and replace it with Lorem Ipsum, just to avoid that!

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  36. 2398

    This is amongst the most ridiculous posts I have ever read.

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  37. 2449

    Hahah, great joke dude! This is gonna stir up some angry mob.

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  38. 2500

    This article is absurd. The arguments put forward become completely mute as soon as the designer learns to communicate properly with the client, and stops pushing websites live without sanity checking everything. Sorry, but to my mind, this has been written by someone with little experience.

    Totally stupid.

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  39. 2551
  40. 2602

    Well, Lorem Ipsum has been, and will still be a life saver for us people design websites. I’m sorry, your article does not make any sense.

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  41. 2653

    I think what annoys me most is the constant referral to your “design” when it seems that you’re actually referring to website design. That is your line of work, and good for you. Lorem ipsum may not be suitable for your needs. I design for print – anyone remember print?? I layout several newsletter-type publications and there is simply no substitute for Lorem ipsum, as there is no other convenient way of communicating to clients how long an article can be, in how many words.

    So “design informer” I thought I’d take it upon myself to defend the use of Lorem ipsum, and its usefulness. To my fellow PRINT designers: Print On!

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  42. 2704

    Honestly sometimes putting dummy text thats off message expedites getting the correct content . If you can supply something in the right tone and length, you probably get the right information much more quickly than a slug of lorem ipsum.

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  43. 2755

    Steve Great link… { http://www.blindtextgenerator.com/ }

    You need something to mock things up. Educate your clients on what it is you are doing. Tell them you are putting in “Mock-Up” “Garble” text… So they know what it is you are doing. We have to explain WHY we do things to clients all the time. This is just another “thing” you have to explain. But, one they are educated they will understand.

    I’m one that using Ipsum, I have for 10+ years and it works great. I don’t want my client to read actual copy and have them loose focus on the core design that is being presented.

    Bottom line, you have to use something. And I for one am NOT going to go out and hire a copy writer to spend time on researching a subject for a mock up.

    I control the design therefore I control how much copy goes into it. If I design is something that needs 250 words. I will set my Ipsum, typeface, leading, kerning and tell my writer I need 250 words and drop it in after the design has been approved. It works, i do it all the time.

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  44. 2806

    I agree with this post 100%. While I am fully capable of designing a site using dummy text, the results have always been better when I use actual content (even if it is not the final or client-provided text). I never use Lorem Ipsum anymore, and it has not only improved my designs, it has also helped the clients I work with.

    A client will sometimes sign off on something pretty, without considering how the design will accommodate the actual content. If as a designer, you are only concerned with the aesthetics of your creation, then you are not really a designer, you are a decorator, and you are doing a disservice to both yourself and the client.

    GREAT article!

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  45. 2857

    I am seriously giggling hysterically, I’m so delighted.

    First of all, the fact that people feel so passionately about their work–and which approach is going to help them end up with the best final product–is awesome. 167 comments? COME ON. Great.

    Secondly, the fact that there’s a raging debate about whether content or design should come first is also super awesome.

    That said, I have, in fact, asked an entire audience of 500+ people to raise their right hand and swear never to use “lorem ipsum” in their designs again.

    Whether or not to use placeholder text is, in fact, not the primary issue. The issue is that we RARELY consider, plan for, or complete content content before (or even alongside) the visual design process. We don’t practice content strategy.

    If you are designing for empty spaces where content should be, you’re not designing for effective messaging. Or successful task completion. Or compelling storytelling. You’re designing something for people to look at. And looking at your design is not why people have come to your site or to try out your application.

    However, in reality, I know all to well that designers are almost never designing after project owners/clients have figured out what they want to say, how they’re going to say, who’s going to create the content, what it’s going to look/sound like. And in those cases, “lorem ipsum” seems like the only choice.

    It’s not. Write your own copy. Or, at least, write some words that give an idea about what’s going to go there: messaging, copy objective, how it maps back to the business objective and user goals. Take responsibility for what that content is going to say, so that you can have a conversation in reality about whether or not the design fully supports the message and user tasks.

    It’s not a matter of whether placeholder text can work or not. Sometimes, I think it can. But ultimately, you can design the most beautiful wrapping paper in the world… but if the gift itself is unusable, or not useful, or boring, or of poor quality… no one’s going to care about what it looked like before they opened it.

    If you can a) begin to understand–and articulate–the complexities of planning for and creating web content, and b) clearly scope the effort for clients at the *beginning* of a project, you’re much more likely to end up with something to work with when it comes time to design. You’re not going to win the battle every time. But at least you can start to fight for a more effective design process.

    For more on content strategy:

    http://www.alistapart.com/issues/274
    http://knol.google.com/k/content-strategy
    http://contentstrategy.com

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  46. 2908

    For an analogy, let us refer to my late cousin Virgil.

    Instead of a web designer, you are a suit designer. I would like you to make a suit for Virgil. Something he can wear to weddings and so on.

    Some suit sketches are completed, some preliminary patterns are created. Virgil and I get together with you to review the progress. Virgil walks in the door and you are surprised to find out that he is over 6’6″ and just under 500 POUNDS.

    Now your design makes little (no pun intended) sense, as a suit cannot simply be “scaled up” from an average build to that of Virgil’s. And Virgil HATES plaid.

    This quote from Kyle above hits the nail on the head:

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

    Design needs to be SO MUCH MORE than layout. It needs to be an educational process for both parties. The designer needs to know why a piece of content is important to the end function of the site — why is this there. The client needs to know why the content is needed for a design. It is a two-way street.

    Without adequate content samples from the start, the design will not have the opportunity to live a symbiotic life with it. The UX may suffer, satisfaction will be less-than-stellar, traffic may fail to meet expectations, and ultimately the client will be unhappy.

    Lorem Ipsum may not be killing the design, and perhaps that isn’t what ultimately matters. It is inflicting near fatal wounds on the products of design: a site that easily allows people to accomplish what they need to with your brand/product/service.
    .-= Clinton Forry´s latest Blog Entry – URL Shorteners: Are They Part of Your Social Media & Content Strategy? =-.

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  47. 3061

    I acknowledge Kyle’s opinion that using Lorem Ipsum could cause some problems, but it also helps in the design process. We need to use something in the form of text and images to help form the design, because the content is part of the design in the layout of it. This goes for both print and web design. You need to see how the type flows and where to place images in order to form the balance of positive and negative space in your design.

    Lorem Ipsum, grey boxes, and even stock images are tools like Photoshop to help develop the final product for the client. The ideal would be getting the copy and images from a client that is going to be used in the design when first starting the project. Not likely. I end up using these tools until I can receive content from the client, or in some cases write it myself (most times I have to take the photos as well), I just charge for it.

    When I have the dummy text in the design, is when I am showing the client the “rough comps or prototypes” for them to pick from. I then request the content before finishing the design for final approval. This is where I totally agree with Kyle, you need the content that is actually going to be in the final to tweak the style and layout before presenting it to the client for a revision and/or signoff. I vote sign-off.

    There are a couple steps I take to help with getting content faster. I find out if they have images right away, if not I setup times to take them myself or refer a friend to do it. I know several Freelance Photographers and copywriters, but if they want to write their own, I ask for it page by page, so they don’t get over whelmed and put it off. I also ask for brochures, and if they have them it is my backup plan to pull information from.

    Again another great article and conversation starter.

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  48. 3112

    I only uses Lore Ipsum once, since then I alway ask client to provide data before doing the design

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  49. 3163

    I agree with you. I’ve written a part of an article about lorem ipsum in the same way : http://www.accent-circonflexe.net/contenu-editorial/pensez-strategie-editoriale

    We need to educate clients to let us know content before designing.

    I’m totally convinced that if content is king, it should be first, before designing.

    Thanks for your great article.

    Raphaëlle
    .-= Raphaëlle RIDARCH´s latest Blog Entry – Pensez stratégie éditoriale =-.

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  50. 3214

    The Middle Way
    Its true. I sensed this on our current project, an ERP product website. It allowed the client to go through the design, approve it, and then complaint at the end they wanted “that” in too.

    We had to go through another design iteration because of that.

    Maybe we can come to a middle way between leaving Lorem Ipsum altogether and having everything in it.

    A step-by-step process: headings first, then sub-headings and lastly paragraphs.

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