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Give Lorem Ipsum the boot

It’s been said that lorem ipsum (aka Greek text) is a designer’s best friend. After all, it is downright handy to drop in as a placeholder text until final content is ready. As a design tool, there’s nothing better when you need to see how much space 500 words fills up on a page. The abundance of lorem ipsum generators online makes it a breeze, too. However, that’s where the value stops.

Lorem ipsum can lead to unforeseen headaches and more work down the road. Consider this:

  • The length of content suggested by lorem ipsum can be misleading or poorly influence the actual copy.
  • Some clients simply cannot evaluate a design without realistic content, yet will approve a design anyway. Once real content is dropped in, designers could spend more time making revisions to the copy than Hearst did with his castle.
  • Problems that arise when dropping in actual copy tend to surface at last minute, which creates stress and sub-standard page layouts.
  • The approved design may look great, but the content is secondary – and it shows.
  • Lorem ipsum can drive copywriters crazy because it “boxes” them in.

Not all people have a problem with lorem ipsum, but odds are most clients would prefer to see actual or realistic copy. It makes pages and designs more meaningful, and leads to more productive design reviews.

If content isn’t ready yet, designers can try a few things:

  1. Sit with a copywriter and make rough text on the fly; this kind of collaboration is good for teams and can produce a better product.
  2. Just write something. Is that pen a little rusty? Give it a shot anyway; just try to convey the intended meaning of the actual text.
  3. If all else fails, search for similar text online, then replace it with other text later if needed.

The best plan is for designers to play an active role in creating content once the project is well defined; rough content is better than none at all, and gives designers the opportunity to add more value to the team. In the short term, it may be tempting to use lorem ipsum, but it often leads to more work in the end. Maybe it’s time we vote our typographic friend off the island.

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One Comment

  1. Anna Tou

    June 18, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Another big challenge about having too much Lorem Ipsum on a page is trying to figure out what imagery/illustration is appropriate. And with placeholder text and placeholder imagery there’s really not much left to design. When a designer spends time creating content, even if it is rough, it helps to drive the concept and the ‘look and feel’ making the design stronger.


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